Health and Safety

Employer Cares

In accordance with the Factories Act 1948, an occupier of an establishment has to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all the workers while they are at work in the factory.

It is obligatory for an employer/occupier to ensure the provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are safe and without health risks. Arrangements should be made to rectify risks involved in use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances.

The establishment should be monitored to check the quality of the premises; cleanliness; disposal of wastes and effluents; ventilation and temperature; dust and fume; artificial humidification; overcrowding; lighting; clean drinking water; latrines and urinals; and spittoons.

Safety of the worker must be ensured by installing and maintaining the machinery, mechanisms, transmission apparatus, tools, equipment and machines in best possible safety conditions. Tools, equipment, machines, or products used must be organized properly guaranteeing the safety of workers.

The employer is obliged to take care to protect the worker’s health and safety by providing the means of rescue, the first aid, and the cleanup; and arrangements and organization of the workplace

Source: §7(A) of the Factories Act 1948

 

Non-Standard Workers' Rights on Safe Workplaces- Platform workers

Factories Act has extensive provisions on workers health and safety, as described above. The draft OSH and Working Conditions Code also has a chapter on health and safety at the workplace. Currently, the legislation (both the applicable legislation and draft legislation) is not applicable to the platform workers. The draft OSH and Working Conditions Code defines a worker as "any person employed in any industry to do any manual, unskilled, skilled, technical, operational, clerical or supervisory work for hire or reward, whether the terms of employment be express or implied". The Courts can take a favourable view and require the implementation of OSH Code for the platform workers considering the "implied" nature of the contract.

Similarly, the draft OSH Code defines an employee "in respect of an establishment, a person (other than an apprentice engaged under the Apprentices Act, 1961) employed on wages by an establishment to do any skilled, semi-skilled, unskilled, manual, operational, supervisory, managerial, administrative, technical or clerical work for hire or reward, whether the terms of employment be express or implied". The draft law further says that a person can be declared to be an employee by the appropriate Government. The central or state governments may declare platform workers as employees for the purposes of this legislation and hence grant them all rights as are applicable to other workers.

Both the Factories Act 1948 as well as draft OSH Code require the employer to protect workers' health and safety. However, that is applicable only to the employees. Platform workers are not covered under the labour law yet.

The government does not have a role, as workers performing services through platforms are not protected for occupational hazards. If they encounter an occupational hazard, they can start a civil court case against the platform user to which they provided services or against the platform.

Free Protection

The Factories Act requires employers to provide protective equipment (means of protection) to workers involved in hazardous work. The type of PPE needed varies depending on the nature of work being performed. It includes screens or suitable goggles for protection of eyes. The right use of PPE reduces risk of accident and illness, minimizes future medical costs, and helps in creation of safer working environment.

Source: §35 & 87 of Factories Act 1948

Training

In accordance with the Factories Act, it is the responsibility of an employer to provide instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure health and safety at work of his employees.

Source: §35 & 87 of Factories Act 1948

Labour Inspection System

The Factories Act provides for a vibrant labour inspection system. However, the labour inspection system is state based.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment along with ministries specialized for certain industrial sectors (for example the Ministry of Power, Ministry of Mines) are responsible for formulating and administering laws and regulations relating to labour and employment.

The national legislation provides inspectors the power to enter in workplace premises; examine; inquire or interview anyone; ask for or take copy of any prescribed register, record or other document; and take measures and photographs. The labour inspector is also authorized to dismantle or subject it to any process or test and take possession of any such article or substance that seems to cause danger to health and safety, and detain it for so long as is necessary for such examination.

Source: §9 of Factories Act 1948

 

Non-Standard Workers and Labour Inspection System - Platform workers

At the central level, the Directorate General, Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes (DGFASLI) carries out inspections related to occupational safety and health issues. The Chief Labour Commissioner (CLC) at the central level is responsible for enforcing labour legislation related to working conditions. Both the DGFASLI and the CLC are the attached offices of the Ministry of Labour & Employment. At the state level, the Inspectorates of Factories under State Labour Departments enforce the Factories Act in their respective states.

Labour inspection work relates mainly to the workers in an employment relationship. Since platform workers are not considered as "workers" in employment, their working and employment conditions are not regulated through the central and state labour inspection departments.

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