Workers safety, health and welfare is in the forefront of the concerns of the Ministry of Labour & Employment. Adequate statutory provisions in this regard already exist under the Factories Act, 1948 and the Mines Act, 1952. It stipulates a systemic approach to identify, assess and prevent hazards at the workplace so as to reduce injuries and occupational diseases. Appropriate action is taken by the Inspecting Authorities including initiating prosecution cases against defaulters under the labour laws.
For strengthening preventive and promotive health services including occupational health services under ESI Medical Scheme, Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) has taken several steps:- Action plan has been drawn for prevention of occupational diseases; health check up camps are being organized at work places for identification of occupational diseases amongst ESI Workers; and five occupational disease centers have been set up by ESIC in Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Indore and Mumbai.
Also, there are the constitutional specific provisions on occupational safety and health of workers. The Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS) and the Directorate General of Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes (DGFASLI), the two field organisations under the Ministry strive to achieve the principles enshrined in the Constitution in the area of occupational safety and health in mines, factories and ports.
The constitutional provisions on occupational safety and health state that no child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment. The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards ensuring that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength; that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment. The State shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.
The Directorate General, Factory Advice Service & Labour Institutes (DGFASLI), Mumbai functions as a technical arm of the Ministry in regard to matters concerned with safety, health and welfare of workers in factories and ports/docks. It assists the Central Government in formulation and review of policy and legislation on occupational safety and health in factories and ports; maintains a liaison with Factory Inspectorates of States and Union Territories in regard to the implementation and enforcement of provisions of the Factories Act, 1948; renders advice on technical matters; enforces the Dock Workers (Safety Health & Welfare) Act, 1986; undertakes research in industrial hygiene and industrial psychology etc.; and provides training mainly in the field of industrial safety and health including one year Diploma Course in Industrial Safety, three-months Post Graduate Certificate course in Industrial Health [Associate Fellow of Industrial Health (AFIH)], six-weeks course in Industrial Hygiene techniques and one month’s Specialized Certificate Course in Safety and Health for Supervisory Personnel working in Hazardous Process Industries.
The Directorate General of Mines Safety is a subordinate office of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, which administers the Mines Act, and the rules and regulations framed there under to regulate the objective of safety, health and welfares of workers employed in the mines. Apart from administering the Mines Act and Subordinate Legislations, DGMS also administers other allied legislations. These are:
With a view to ensure enforcement of necessary safety measures in mines, inspections and inquiries are carried out by the inspecting officers of DOMS. Apart from inspecting coal, Metalliferous and oil mines, DOMS also undertakes investigation of accidents and dangerous occurrences and makes recommendations for remedial measures to prevent recurrence of similar mishaps in future. DG MS also issue improvement notices and prohibitory orders to restrict or prohibit employment of persons in mines or part of mines.
*Deputy Director (M&C), PIB, New Delhi.