India’s tanning industry has started tackling environmental issues but its progress on worker safety is woeful. As Peter Bengtsen found out, illness and deaths linked to toxic tanning chemicals appear worryingly common. The day began as every other day for 32-year-old tannery worker, Ramu. He woke at five in the morning next to his wife, Tamil Arasi, and four children in the family’s one-room hut in a tiny rural village in southern India. After his usual breakfast of rice and lentils, he left to clean waste tanks at some of the hundreds of tanneries in Vaniyambadi. He never returned home.