The health and safety of employees working in factories and mines have been given high importance in India. The Constitution of India has provisions to ensure that the health and well being of all employees is protected and the state has the duty to ensure this protection. The different legislation that support this concept are discussed here.
Factories act of 1948
The Factories act of 1948 regulates the health, safety, welfare and other working conditions of workers in factories. The act requires factories employing more than the prescribed numbers to appoint qualified safety officers and medical officers. Safeguards have been prescribed to prevent accidents and report instances of accidents
The Factories Act of 1948 regulates the health, safety, welfare and other working conditions of workers in factories. The act requires factories employing more than the prescribed numbers to appoint qualified safety officer and medical officer. Safeguards have been prescribed to prevent accidents and report instances of accidents.
The act is enforced by the state governments through their factory inspectorates. The Directorate General Factory Advice Service and Labor Institutes (DGFASLI) co-ordinates matters concerning the safety, health and welfare of workers in factories along with respective state governments. DGFASLI conducts training, studies, and surveys on various aspects relating to the safety and health of workers through the Central Labor Institute in Mumbai and three other regional labor institutes located at Calcutta, Chennai, and Kanpur.
Mines Act of 1952
The Mines act of 1952 has provisions related to the health, safety, and welfare of workers in coal, metal and oil lines.
The Directorate general of mines safety conducts inspections and inquiries issues competency tests for the purpose of appointment to various posts in mines and organizes seminars/ conferences on various aspects of safety of workers. Courts of inquiry are set up by the central government to investigate accidents that result in the death of 10 or more miner. Both penal and pecuniary punishments are prescribed for the contravention of obligation and duties under the act.
The Dock Workers (safety, health, and Welfare) act, 1986 contains provisions for the health safety, and welfare of workers working at ports / docks. The overall emphasis on the activities of the inspectorates constituted under the act is to contain the accident rates i.e. the number of accidents at the ports.
While there have been efforts by the government to ensure occupational health standards in India, the common complaint is that implementation is less than desired. A review of published studies on occupational health showed that occupational health management is a complex issue in India. It includes child labor (even though employment of children below 14 years is prohibited) an informal sector spread across the country lack of awareness and training, and inadequate attention given to occupational hygiene. The study concludes that the efficiency of the enforcement machinery operated by the government is less than desired. Occupational health concerns have been raised in the growing IT/ITES sector, with the government of India contemplating introducing a separate legislation for BPOs.
Recognizing the importance of high occupational health standards and the strategic advantage of having a healthy workforce many Indian firms invest in wellness programs. Workplaces are regularly screened for safety hazards and ergonomics aspects are given due consideration during the design of workplace Companies like Accenture India, Infosys, and Pfizer India have health clubs equipped with modern equipment and qualified trainers at the company premises. Public sector units like the national thermal Power Corporations (NTPC), Steel authority of India (SAIL) and Bharat heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), provide such facilities in their residential townships for employees. Sessions on yoga, mediation and other relaxation techniques are introduced at the workplace are stress busters. Employees at all levels have to undergo regular medical screening to identify health related symptoms. The Government of India has also introduced mandatory annual health checkups for senior civil servants which forms part of their annual performance evaluation report.