What would you do if you were told that the roof above your head would fall any time? Sensibly, you would run out of that place and never return, but not everyone has that kind of option. Workers in a Government office building in Bihar, India sit under a depleting roof, wearing only helmets to protect themselves.
A video featuring four employees, working in the office wearing motorcycle helmets went viral on social media, highlighting the poor working conditions for workers in the country. The local media investigated the video to discover that the video came from a Government building in Areraj, Champaran district. The building had been declared dangerous by work safety inspectors, but the workers were never moved to a safer location.
One of the employees at the building, Amit Kumar Pandey talked to the media saying, “The building construction department had two years back declared the building is hazardous and unfit for use. The authorities have, however, found no alternate accommodation to shift the office. The situation has aggravated due to rains as the entire building leaks, compromising the safety of office equipment and records. The matter has been communicated to senior officers many times in writing but to no avail.”
Trickling water should have been enough of a problem to begin seeking protection, but the employees only began to wear the helmets when parts of the roof began to fall off, injuring many workers. The condition of the building has worsened so much that it could come down any day and may leave no room for any one to escape.
Another worker in the building, Parvez Ahmed explained, “This is quite an old building. Walls and the roof of the building are in a very bad shape. Water starts trickling the moment it rains. The roof can cave in any day. Since we can’t be absent from our duties, we all decided to wear helmets. Many employees have sustained injuries due to falling of plaster from the ceiling.”
When the video went viral, and the media raised an issue, the government officials finally announced that the office would be moved. The announcement, however, came with the news that the workers featured in the video would be issued show-cause notices for going to the media. A senior official announced, “The office will be shifted to a safer place within a day. We had ordered shifting of offices immediately after the adverse report from the building division, but the process got delayed. We have already issued a show-cause notice to the concerned official, asking him to explain the reason for the delay in shifting. Show-cause notices had also been served to the four employees in the video for taking their problem to the media and not apprising their seniors.”