Laws on work and health

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Laws on work and health

  1. 1. :,,:!!r !.,i Health Occupational Understanding pertaining laws to WorkersHealth Safety and SeethaSriraman ficcupational healthis an inter-disciplinary subject the tenderage of children are not abused, citizens iii) r.-fconcerned with securingthe health and safety not to be forced by economic necessityto enter of workersat their placeof employment.In India this avocations unsuited their ageor strength, just and to iv) concepthasevolvedgraduallywhich canbe evidenced humaneconditionsof work and maternityrelief to be through various statutes and policies that provide for provided and the Government should take steps,by securingsafeandhealthyworking condition of workers suitablelegislationor in any other way. to securethe in employed varioustypesof employments. While there p a r t i c i p a t i o n f e m p l o y e ei n t h e m a n a g e m e no f o t existlawsandpoliciesdealingwith occupational health. undertakinss. establishnrents other organisations or do they adequately cover everv kind of enrplor nrent enragedin anr industrr. Accordin,ell. Govemment the that could endanger a nvorkers healthand satetr in of India has enacted statutes relatingto occupational the Indianemplolment environmentin the contextol safetyand health,someof which are listed as follows; a changing technolo_sical socio-economic and scenariol o The Mines Act, 1952 and the rules and regulations N e e d l e s st o m e n t i o n , i t w o u l d b e i m p o r t a n t t o framed thereunder. understand the existingpiecesof legislationprovide if o The FactoriesAct,l94Sandrulesframedthereunder; effective level of protection to workers employed in o Dock Workers (Safety, Health and Welfare) Act, hazardous environments. 1986and regulationsand rules framed thereunder; Under the existinglaws, an employeris obligatedto o The Buildin-s and Other Construction Workers take prescribedstepsin order to protectthe workers (Regulationof Employment and Conditions of healthand safetyin placesof employmentthat involve Service)Act, 1996 and rules framed thereunder; a workers exposureto hazardoussubstances or which couldleadto hazardous o The Dangerous Machines(Regulation)Act, 1983and environments situations. Health and safety of workers is an essential rules framed thereunder: responsibility an employer,a notableconcemof the of o The Insecticides ct. 1968 and rules framed A community and a critical area of attention for the thereunder; administration. Occupational healthin India hasnot gone r The Shopsand Establishments enacted State Act by without due attention from the aforesaid since the Govemments; existing laws and policies dealingwith the sameowe r The Beedi and their foundationto the socialisticprinciplesenshrined Cigar Workers SXRYTCN ANN in the Indian Constitution. (Conditionsof LAN{}UR LAWS Employment) L a w s c o n c e r n i n gw o r k e r s s a f e t y a n d Act, 1966; health o The Municipal Underthe Indian Constitution,theDirectivePrinciples Solid Waste of State Policy which guide the activities of the (Management Govemment,provide for inter alia, i) securingthe health and Handling) and strengthof employees, men and women, ii) that Rules.2000H e a l t hA c t i o n. O c t o b e r 0 1 2 2
  2. 2. iijiirliFiiiitiii$i8.ffiffi ffi-ffinotified underthe Environnrent (Protection) Act. 1986: e The Manufacture,Storage& Import of Hazardou: 6 - ._.--- *-t Chemicals Rules,1989; o The ElectricityAct, 2003 It is pertinent notethat iit present. to contprehe nsivesafetyand healthstatlrtes reeulating tbr occupationalsafetyandhealthat u ork places erist predontinantlr infour sectorsnamelr.mining. factories.ports. andconstruction. ri:: ; ThePlannin-e Commission in its Reportof Working has -{l dGroup on OccupationalSafety and Health (OSH) for F-:,the 12nFive Year Plan, expressed concernsas regardsimplementation measures the Government of underthe the *ell-beins oi rhe eniployee and society, large. atOSH which include,(i) at present thereis no agencyor The te:t rri rrlplementation the Policy remains be of todepartment the Governmentof India exclusivelv of arcefiuined tiont the progress time-boundexecution ofdealingwith mattersof OccupationalSafety& Health rrl "..tlrrn Programme"stipulatedin the Policy, throughand (ii) thereis no agencyto coverthe safetyand heahh lr rriou strategic initiatives.of workersin unorganized sectors. ThePlanning Commission emphaticalh:uS{e:reti has Factories, miningand constructionthe needfor an apexbody at nationaller el trr.leal rr ith A Working Group set up on OSH under the Ministrymattersconnected with safetyand healthrrf * t-rrkerr in of Labour & Employment, Government of India inall sectorsof economyto be desienated rirional ir A u g u s t 2 0 1 1 , e x a m i n e d t h e e f f e c t i v e n e s so fCommission Occupational on Satetr & Health ri hich administrative machineryunder StateGovernments toc o u l d a s s i s tt h e G o v e r n n r e n t i I n d i e i n t h e o ensureOSH to workers in factories and otherimplementation theNational of Policr on Occupational establishments through the institution of "FactorySafety & Health. Inspector"underthe Factories Act, 1948and suggested that amendmentsbe brought about to ensure betterNational Policyon safety, healthand operationalsafety and health standards including in IT/environment workplace at ITES and export enclaves,to addressconcernsof The Government Indiadeclared NationalPolicy of a security,transportation, congenial workplace, etc. toon Safety,Health and Enr ironrnenrat Workplaceon promoteemploymentof women.20th February. 2009. Someof its teatures include: A studyshowedthat of the total employedpopulationo Recognizing safeandhealthl uorkingenvironment of in the country during 2007, about lJ 7o worked in the as a fundamentalhumanricht: organizedsectorand 83 7ofellin the unorganizedsector.r Enhancingthe riell-bern_s employees of and the Legislationsincluding the FactoriesAct, 1948 or the societv eliminatine ork-related bv u injuries, diseases, Mines Act, 1952could not be deemed coverthis vast to majority of workersbecause persons the worked in theo Enumeratin_u to be achieved bring into focus goal: and informal sector where accidentswere failed to be theobjective continuous of reduction theincidence in reported. of work-related inluriesand diseases; The EmployeesStateInsurance Scheme, formulatedr Describingan Action Prosrammewhich would under the EmployeesState InsuranceAct, 1948, involve i.e. Enforcement. Development National of providesfor medicalcareand cashbenefitsin the case Standards, Compliance. areness. Arl Research and of sickness, maternity,disablementand death due to Development, SkillsDevelopmenr. DataCollection. employmentinjuries. Under the Schememedical care PracticalGuidanceand Incentives. is provided to families of insuredpersons. Recently, The Policy aims to eliminatethe incidenceof u,ork- the EmployeesStateInsurance Act, 1948, has beenrelatedinjuries, diseases, fatalities,disaster. loss of amended enableESI infrastructure provide health to tonationalassets, ensuringachievement a high level of of care to workers in the unorganized sector. The initialoccupational safety, health and environment coverage unorganized of sectorworkerswas limited toperformance throughproactiveapproaches, enhancing Beedi workers, cine workers and non-coal mine workers.H e a l t hA c t i o n. O c t o b e r 0 1 2 2 l0
  3. 3. ,,i.i #siHi-#ffi1iteffiffi#"€ -i,!l;ii.r:i:r.::lli:ii!liiffiffi ",- rrh respectto the Mines Act, 1952, the Planning industry after agriculture in terms of providinglommissionin its afore-stated Reportwhile expressing employment.is concerns implementation the saidAct, pointed on of Construction workersareexposed a daily basisto on)ut that (a) there was occulrenceof disastersat regular a wide variety of major occupationalsafety and healthntervalsin coal mines, mostly in underground mines hazards. The Building and OtherConstruction Workersmd also in some of the metalliferousmines i.e. irons (Regulation EmploymentandConditionsof Service) of)re, soapstone and granite mines; (b) there were causes Act, 1996is applicable all establishments to employingrf accidentsthat repeatedthemselves in a disturbing 10 or more workers in any building and othernannerand (c) contraventions statutoryprovisions construction works. The Central Government is the ofrad been observed during inspections showing that appropriate government for notifying the rules and;imilar contraventions have been repeated. Moreover. regulationsunder the Act as well as the enforcementlersons employed in mines are exposedto hazardsat of the provisionsunder the said Rules.in respectofworkplace adversely affecting their health some of establishmentsrelation whichCentral in to Governmentwhichinclude dust,noise,vibrations,heat,humidity etc. is the appropriategovernmentunder the IndustrialJn account of the acute shortage of Occupational Disputes Act. 1917. Most Statesare yet to introduceF{ealth Inspectors, a complete picture of the rules under the aforesaid Act.rccupational health status in mines was not available Below are a few laws applicableto the workerslnd therefore necessitatingthe need to undertake engaged construction at sites:rccupational health survey as per the internationally o ContractLabour(Regulation Operative) & Act,1970recognised standards and guidelines. o Minimum Wages Act, 1948 The Buildings and Other Construction Workers o Payment of Wages Act, 1936(Regulation EmploymentandConditionsof Service) o Equal Remuneration of Act,1976Act, 1996, was enacted primarily to regulate o Inter-State Migrant Workmen Regulation ofemploymentand condition of the serviceof buildings Employmentand Conditionof ServicesAct, 1979.andotherconstruction workersand to provide for their industryare Workersin the building andconstructionsafety,health, and welfare measures. The Indian safetyand health proneto high amountof risks to theirconstruction industry is considered be the iar-eest to accidents occupattonal and diseases. Workers including areerposed interaliasilicosis. poisoning, to lead diseases Underthe existinglaws.an employer is o f j o i n t s a n d b o n e s .c a r b o n m o n o x i d e ,b e n z e n e obligatedto take prescribed stepsin order poisoning,skin diseases, Thereis very little amount etc. of research has been done on the occupational health,to protectthe workers healthand safetyin hazards, and psychosocial problemsof the workers of placesof employment that involve a the constructionindustry. workers exposureto hazardous Comprehensivesafety and health laws for regulating substances environmentswhich could safety and health of personsat work exist. However, or Health and they areyet to witnesseffective implementationin most lead to hazardous situations. States.The Government should commit to fully safetyof workersis an essential implement the provisions of the National Policy on responsibility an employer,a notable of Safety, Health and Environment at Workplace and concernof the community and a critical various existing legislationsthrough consultation, improving enforcement, developingspecialprogrammes, areaof attentionfor the administration. settingup training mechanisms, creating nation-wide Occupationalhealth in India has not gone awareness, arrangingfor the mobilisationof available without due attentionfrom the aforesaid resources. Failureto enforceexistin-e laws and policies sincethe existinglaws andpoliciesdealing would lead to inegularitiesand demonstrate of a lack harmonized approachby the administrationtowards with the sameowe their foundationto the safetyand healthof workers. I in principlesenshrined the socialistic (The uuthor is a well experiencedAdvocate from Mumbai; IndianConstitution. recentlymovedto UK. The author acknowledges various sourcesvhich are available on request)HealthAction a October2012 1t

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