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  • Tamanna Midha

REGULATING THE HAZARDOUS PROCESSES AND SAFETY OF WORKERS UNDER LABOUR LAW

Updated: Jan 16

Author: Tamanna Midha

Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies

ABSTRACT

Many laws and guidelines designed to protect workers in potentially dangerous fields are outlined in this document. As it is, the manufacturing, mining, ports, and construction industries are the ones for which the most extensive safety and health provision has been established. This article examines the laws that provide for different forms of compensation and insurance in the event of injuries or deaths sustained on the job due to risks and hazards. Both the National Policy on Safety and Health at Workplaces in India (NPSHEW) and the Occupational Safety and Health Workplaces in India (OSHWCC) are summarized in this article.


INTRODUCTION

Every worker has the right to a healthy and safe working environment. Workers in dangerous Indian sectors have an extremely low safety record. There is a plethora of laws meant to safeguard employees' rights and prevent accidents in potentially dangerous occupations, but only the most fortunate workers really benefit from them. Due to the high unemployment rate, the labour is ripe for exploitation since it is plentiful, ignorant, low-skilled, and readily accessible. Finding a job is more vital than worrying about potential threats.


The Indian Constitution includes "labour" in its list of "concurrent" provisions. Parliament and state legislatures both have the authority to pass laws governing the workplace. There are now more than 100 state and 40 central laws regulating many facets of labour, including but not limited to: industrial dispute resolution; working conditions; social security; pay. The regulations protecting those who work in dangerous industry, however, haven't changed much in decades. The numbers published are far lower than the real numbers because of an increase in the number of unintentional fatalities, injuries, and occupational illnesses. The necessary and ideal specialised workforce and supporting infrastructure to address worker health and safety issues has not yet been built.


Despite robust labour regulations, employees are exposed to daily verbal contracts, risky jobs without minimal protective measures, ageing infrastructure and instruments, low daily payments, or unpaid wages that cannot be collected owing to a network of contractors escaping accountability. Researchers say low-wage workers are desensitised to workplace abuses and often oblivious of the risks they face. Most workers stay quiet when speaking up may cost them their job. Despite the risks, most people put their jobs first. Dangerous working conditions are regarded to be one of India's leading causes of death and disability.


Several clauses in the Indian Constitution safeguard employees in risky jobs. Article 24 prohibits under-14s from working in mines, factories, or other dangerous jobs. Article 39 (e) requires children to be given opportunity and resources for healthy development and protection against exploitation (f). Article 42 guarantees maternity leave and other humane workplace treatment. India's Ministry of Labour and Employment oversees workplace safety and health problems (OSH). Rule-making authority. The Ministry's Directorate of Industrial Safety and Health implements policies and instructs the Minister on national law making.


IMPORTANT HEALTH AND SAFETY LAWS FOR WORKERS

The Factories Act, 1948[i]

The first factories act was passed in 1881 since most of India's health and safety laws were modelled after the British Factory Act under British rule in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Chief Inspector of Factories enforces worker safety in industrial facilities under the Act. The Factories Act requires employers to select a hazardous chemical expert to oversee handling, maintain an updated health record of personnel, offer protective measures, and perform frequent medical examinations. Basic safety measures include the use of precautions when working on equipment, the use of emergency mechanisms to shut off power, the maintenance of hoists and lifts, the periodic testing of pressurised vessels, the upkeep of lifting machines, chains, ropes, and other lifting gear, the provision of protective clothes, and the removal of gas and dust before entering a work area. Employees, the chief factory inspector, and local authorities have the right to know the plant's safety and policy, the quantity and types of chemicals and waste, their disposal, and any emergency preparations.


The Mines Act, 1952[ii]

As mineral extraction methods improved, concerns were raised about the safety of those working in the mining industry. Provisions for controlling employment, leave with pay, owner, agent, and management obligations, safe drinking water, first aid, and rest sheeters, medical exams and occupational health inspections, and notifications of accidents and occupational illnesses are all outlined in the Mines Act, 1952. In addition, the Act guarantees that underground mining is not performed by women, that mines are not hazardous for mining, that tripartite committees are formed, and that inspectors have the power to conduct safety and health inspections. Mines are subject to the following statutes and regulations pertaining to the health and safety of their employees the Mines Act (1952)[iii], the Coal Mines Regulations (1957)[iv], the Metalliferous Mines Regulations (1961)[v], the Oil Mines Regulations (1984)[vi], the Mines Rules (1955), the Mines Vocational Training Rules (1966)[vii], the Mines Rescue Rules (1985)[viii].


The Building & Other Construction Workers (Regulation Of Employment And Conditions Of Service) Act, 1996[ix]

The Building and Other Construction Workers Act of 1996 regulates employment, the circumstances under which building services are provided, and various other variables with the goal of protecting the safety, welfare, and health of construction workers. The Act ensures the safety of construction workers by addressing concerns including the prevention of injuries on the job, the use of appropriate safety equipment, and the elimination of hazards like structural collapse and explosives handling. Furthermore, necessary are the steps of assembling, installing, using, and maintaining the transportation equipment, as well as the selection of a competent person to operate or drive it. Protecting workers from electric machinery necessitates taking measures including providing sufficient illumination and shielding, keeping safety documents up to date, and erecting safety netting. This Act regulates the provision of medical treatment for construction workers, as well as other matters pertaining to the health of persons engaged in the operations sector.

Additional Laws Regarding the Health and Safety of Employees Working in Hazardous Conditions:

1. The Indian Boilers Act, 1923[x] (amended 2007)

Consolidating and updating the legislation pertaining to steam boilers is the purpose of this Act.

2. The Dangerous Machines (Regulation) Act, 1983[xi]

Payment of compensation for death or physical harm incurred by any labourer while working any hazardous devices is governed by the Act, as is their trade and commerce, supply, distribution, and usage.

3. The Plantation Labour Act, 1951[xii] (amended 2010)

Workers' rights are protected and plantation working conditions are regulated under this Act.

4. The Explosives Act, 1884[xiii]

The Explosives Act, the Explosives Rule 2008 (as amended in 2011), the Static and Mobile Pressure Vessels Rules, 1981 and 2016, the Ammonium Nitrate Rules, 2012, and the Gas Cylinders Rules, 1981 and 2016 all regulate the production, storage, distribution, transportation, import, and export of explosives.

5. The Insecticides Act, 1968[xiv] (amended 2000)

The purpose of the Act is to ensure the safety of humans and animals by controlling the access to, and use of, pesticides at every stage of the supply chain.


OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH CODE (OSHWCC)

The Ministry of Labour has been working on four different labour codes related to wages, industrial relations, social security and welfare, and safety and health in the workplace. These codes were developed by simplifying and combining the relevant aspects of the existing Central Labour Laws. The Occupational Safety and Health Workplace Compliance Act, 2019, was first introduced by the Ministry of Labour and Employment in Lok Sabha in July 2019. It was referred to the Standing Committee in October of the same year. All mines and ports, as well as businesses with 10 or more workers, must follow the Code's safety and health guidelines in order to get certification. It unifies and replaces thirteen different labour standards that used to protect workers in hazardous industries. According to the Draft Code, all companies are responsible for ensuring their workplaces are risk-free for employees. Employees in all industries, including mining, manufacturing, docking, building, plantation, film, and service, are covered by the Code.


NATIONAL POLICY ON SAFETY, HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT AT WORKPLACE (NPSHEW)

On February 20, 2009, the Indian Ministry of Labour and Employment launched the National Policy on Safety, Health, and Environment at Workplace (NPSHEW) to guarantee that all employees in India are provided with a safe and healthy workplace. This plan was formulated in light of applicable international agreements and the Directive Principles of State Policy. The government recognises that the elimination of work-related injuries, illnesses, deaths, and catastrophes would have a good impact on productivity and economic and social growth, and therefore the purpose of this National Policy is to promote a preventative safety and health culture in the country. The goal of this policy is to provide a healthier and safer work environment for all employees.

A) Preserve a falling trend in the frequency with which workers suffer injuries, illnesses, fatalities, disasters, and property damage on the job.

B) Raising general awareness about the need of a safe work environment.

C) Developing environmentally responsible employment opportunities while upholding stringent safety regulations.


CONCLUSION

Occupational health and safety regulations exist, and there are national plans, policies, and institutions to back them up, but there are still various loopholes that make it difficult to meet the aims and objectives of assuring the safety of employees in hazardous areas. Low wages and job insecurity are connected with other problems that affect working men and women, including the health and safety of workers in hazardous jobs. The main responsibility is to inform workers on applicable rules and regulations intended to safeguard their health, safety, and welfare in the workplace. Legislation that is not effective or executed, a lack of skilled occupational health people, and insufficient institutions, training modules, certification courses, infrastructure, facilities, and budgetary allocations all threaten the safety of workers in hazardous sectors. The fact that low-income workers are disproportionately represented in dangerous industries like agriculture, mining, and construction is a further indicator of the link between poverty and these hazards. Workers in the unorganised sector require access to the same occupational health and safety laws and facilities as those in the organised sector, and these laws and facilities need to be implemented immediately and reviewed regularly to ensure continuous improvement. Dense population, unemployment, poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, and untrained labour are fundamental problems that impede economic growth and the execution of a workers' safety and health policy. There is an immediate need for effective enforcement mechanisms, centres of excellence in occupational medicine in each state, and a centralised institution to oversee health and safety laws for workers in potentially dangerous workplaces.


BIBLIOGRAPHY& REFERENCES

LIST OF STATUTES

  • Factories Act, 63, India (1948).

  • Mines Act, 35, India (1952).

  • Coal Mines Regulations, India (1954).

  • Metalliferous Mines Regulations, India (1961)

  • Oil Mines Regulations, India (1984)

  • Mines Vocational Training Rules, India (1966)

  • Mines Rescue Rules, India (1958)

  • The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service Act, 27, India (1996).

  • The Indian Boilers Act, 05, India (1923).

  • The Dangerous Machines (Regulation) Act,12, India (1983).

  • The Plantation Labour Act, 69, India (1951).

  • The Insecticides Act, 46, India (1968).

  • The Explosives Act, 04, India (1884).

ARTICLES

  • Das B. Assessment of occupational health problems and physiological stress among the brick field workers of West Bengal, India. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2014;27(3):413-25. Doi: http://10.2478/s13382-014-0262-z

  • Saha, R.K., 2018. Occupational Health in India. Annals of Global Health, 84(3), pp.330–333. DOI: http://doi.org/10.29024/aogh.2302

REPORTS

  • “Labour and Labour-related Laws in Micro and Small and Enterprises: Innovative Regulatory Approaches”, International Labour Organisation, 2007.

  • “Towards an optimal regulatory framework in India”, Implementation Group, Planning Commission, 12th Five Year Plan.

  • “National Policy on Safety, Health and Environment at Work Place,” Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India.

  • Employees’ State Insurance Corporation. Press Release. 5th December 2014. http://esic.nic.in/press/Press_Release_05.12.14.pdf

  • International Labour Organization. Safety and health in agriculture. Geneva: ILO, 2011.

REFERENCES [i] Factories Act, 63, India (1948). [ii] Mines Act, 35, India (1952). [iii]Id. [iv]Coal Mines Regulations, India (1954). [v]Metalliferous Mines Regulations, India (1961) [vi]Oil Mines Regulations, India (1984) [vii]Mines Vocational Training Rules, India (1966) [viii]Mines Rescue Rules, India (1958) [ix] The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service Act, 27, India (1996). [x] The Indian Boilers Act, 05, India (1923). [xi] The Dangerous Machines (Regulation) Act,12, India (1983). [xii] The Plantation Labour Act, 69, India (1951). [xiii] The Explosives Act, 04, India (1884). [xiv] The Insecticides Act, 46, India (1968).

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