Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)

Dr.R.D.Mishra

Occupational Health and Safety is concern with the various health related problems which arise at Workplace due to non conducive work environment and risk factor involved which badly affect the Health of Workmen. It is the responsibility of state to enact laws to protect the health and safety the Workmen in the various sector of Industry including hazardous industries. Much more to be done in the wake of Industry 4.0. Moreover implementing agencies need to be more active and fair towards providing relief to workers.

Occupational health and safety (OHS) relates to healthsafety, and welfare issues in the workplace. OHS includes the laws, standards, and programs that are aimed at making the workplace better for workers, along with co-workers, family members, customers, and other stakeholders. The objective of occupational health care is a healthy and safe working environment, a well-functioning working community, prevention of work-related diseases as well as the maintenance of employees’ working ability and functional capacity, and promotion of their health.

Occupational health is a specialist branch of medicine that focuses on the physical and mental wellbeing of employees in the workplace. The aim of occupational health is to prevent work-related illness and injury by: encouraging safe working practices; ergonomics which is the science of studying how you work and how you could work better.

The status of Occupational health amongst Workers of Industrial Organisations by assessment of  may job and its related environment of Machines and working conditions by having various medical tests like ,  chest x-ray, blood tests, urine drug screen, alcohol breath test, eudiometry (hearing test), spirometry (lung test), manual handling assessment, fitness test, MRI and/or ECG.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO)

 Occupational health, mandated in article 2 of WHO Constitution includes promoting the improvement of working conditions and other aspects of environmental hygiene.

WHO implemented a Global Plan of Action on Workers’ health from 2008-2017 endorsed by the World Health Assembly in with the following objectives?

  • devising and implementing policy instruments on workers’ health;
  • protecting and promoting health at the workplace;
  • improving the performance of and access to occupational health services;
  • providing and communicating evidence for action and practice; and
  • Incorporating workers’ health into other policies.

Ministry of Labour and employment, Govt of India is responsible to ensure the implementation of Industrial Safety and Health in various Industrial organisations. Directorate General Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes (DGFASLI), Mumbai plays important role in this regard.The ministry has devised a National Policy on Health safety and Environment during 2009 which is as follow,

  1. Continuous reduction in the incidence of work related injuries, fatalities, diseases, disasters and loss of national assets.
  2.  Improved coverage of work related injuries, fatalities and diseases and provide for a more comprehensive data base for facilitating better performance and monitoring.
  3.  Continuous enhancement of community awareness regarding safety, health and environment at workplace related areas.
  4.  Continually increasing community expectation of workplace health and safety standards.
  5. Improving safety, health and environment at workplace by creation of “green jobs” contributing to sustainable enterprise development.  

Presently there are Four laws regulating OHS

(i)The Factories Act, 1948, covering factories wherein the enforcement of safety at workplace is by the Chief Inspector of Factories in the respective states,

(II)The Mines Act, 1952 and Mines Rules, 1955 for mining industry where the enforcement is by the Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS) under Ministry of Labour & Employment Government of India,

(iii) The Dock Workers (Safety, Health and Welfare) Act, 1986 followed by notification of the Dock Workers (Safety, Health and Welfare) Regulations, 1990 dealing with the major ports of India and the enforcement is by the Directorate General of Factory Advice Service & Labour Institutes (DGFASLI), under Ministry of Labour & Employment , Government of India.

(iv) The Building & Other Construction Workers (Regulations of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996, covering construction workers at construction sites wherein the enforcement is by the Directorate General Labour Welfare in the central sphere and by the Labour Commissioners/Factory Inspectorates in the States/UTs.

Other related legislations on Safety, Health and Environment

Apart from the four main legislations mentioned above, there are legislations relating to certain substances, machinery, environment which also addresses certain issue of safety and health. These statutes are applicable to all sectors including the unorganized sectors:

1.4.1 The Indian Boilers Act, 1923 (amended2007)

An Act is to consolidate and amend the law relating to steam boilers, The Indian Boilers Regulations, 1950 (amended2010) and The Boilers Rules of respective States.

1.4.2 The Dangerous Machines (Regulation) Act, 1983

An Act to provide for the regulation of trade and commerce in production, supply, distribution and use of the product of any industry producing dangerous machines with a view to securing the welfare of labour, operating any such machine and for payment of compensation for death or bodily injury suffered by any labourer while operating any such a machine and for matters connected there with or incidental there to. The act is supplemented by the Dangerous Machines (Regulation) Rules, 1984 (amended2007).

1.4.3The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961 (amended 1986)

An Act to provide for the welfare of motor transport workers and to regulate the conditions of their work. The act is supplemented by the Motor Transport Workers Rules, 1964.

1.4.4 The Plantation Labour Act, 1951 (amended 2010) and Rules there under

This act provides for the welfare of labours and to regulate the conditions of work in plantations.

1.4.5 The Beedi Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966 (amended 1993)

This act provides for the welfare of the workers in beedi and cigar establishments and to regulate the conditions of their work and for matters connected there with. The respective State Governments have notified the State Rules under the Act.

1.4.6 The Shops and Commercial Establishments Acts

The Act enacted by respective State Governments covers items of cleanliness, ventilation, lighting, precaution against fire and provision of first-aid box.

1.4.7 The Explosives Act, 1884 (amended 1983)

This act provides for regulating the manufacture, possession, use, sale, transport, import and export of Explosives. Also there are The Explosives Rules, 2008 (amended 2011), The Static and Mobile Pressure Vessels (unfired) Rules, 1981 & 2016, The Gas Cylinders Rules, 1981 & 2016 and The Ammonium Nitrate Rules, 2012.

1.4.8 The Petroleum Act, 1934

An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to the import, transport, storage, production, refining and blending of petroleum. Also there are The Petroleum Rules, 2002 (amended 2011) and The Calcium Carbide Rules, 1987.

1.4.9 The Inflammable Substances Act, 1952

An Act to declare certain substances to be dangerously inflammable and to provide of the regulation of their import, transport, storage and production by applying there to The Petroleum Act and the rules there under and for certain matters connected with such regulation.

1.4.10 The Insecticides Act, 1968 (amended 2000) An Act to regulate the import, manufactures, sale, transport, distribution and use of insecticides with a view to prevent risk to human beings or animals and for matters connected there with. Insecticide also means any substance specified in the schedule or such other substances (including fungicides and weedicides) or any such preparation containing one or more such substances as notified from time to time. There is also prohibition against sale or storage of insecticides in certain areas.

1.4.11 The Oil Fields (Regulation and Development) Act, 1948

An Act to provide for the regulation of oil fields and for the development of mineral oil resources. Also there are The Petroleum and Natural Gas (Safety in Offshore Operations) Rules, 2009.

1.4.12 The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulation Board Act, 2006 An Act to provide for the establishment of Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board to regulate the refining, processing, storage, transportation, distribution, marketing and sale of petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas excluding production of crude oil and natural gas so as to protect the interests of consumers and entities. Plus The Petroleum and Natural Gas (Appointment of Consultants) Regulations, 2007. Plus The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (Technical Standards and Specifications including Safety Standards for City or Local Natural Gas Distribution Networks) Regulations, 2008. Plus The Petroleum and Natural Gas (Safety in Offshore Operations) Rules, 2008. Plus The Petroleum and Natural Gas (Code of Practice for Emergency Response and Disaster Management Plan) Regulations, 2010.

1.4.13 The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (amended 1991) An Act to provide for the protection and improvement of environment and matters connected therewith. There are also various Rules which are listed below

• The Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 (amended 2010) •

• The Manufacture Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules, 1989 (amended 2000)  

• The Rules for Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Micro Organisms, Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells, 1989 (amended 2010)

• The Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Tran boundary Movement) Rules, 2016 [Suppressed the Hazardous Wastes (Management, Handling and Transboundry Movement) Rules, 2008]

• The Chemical Accidents (Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Response) Rules, 1996  

• The Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 [Suppressed the Bio-Medical Waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 1998]

• The Recycled Plastics Manufacture and Usage Rules, 1999 (amended 2003)  

• The Noise Pollution (Regulation & Control) Rules, 2000 (amended 2010)

• The Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation & Control) Rules, 2000 (amended 2007)

• The Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016

• The Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016 [Suppressed the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management & Handling) Rules, 2000]

• The Batteries (Management & Handling) Rules, 2001 (amended 2010)

• The Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006(amended 2013)

• The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 [Suppressed the Plastic waste Management and Handling Rules, 2011]

• The E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016 w.e.f 1st October, 2016 

1.4.14 The Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977 (Amended 2003)

An Act to provide for the levy and collection of a cess on water consumed by persons carrying on certain industries and by local authorities, with a view to augment the resources of the Central Board and the State Boards for the prevention and control of water pollution constituted under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and the Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Cess Rules, 1978.

1.4.15 The Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 (Amended 1987)

An Act to provide for the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution, for the establishment , with a view to carrying out the aforesaid purposes, of Boards, for conferring on and assigning to such Boards powers and functions relating thereto and for matters connected therewith the Air (Preventions & Control of Pollution) Rules, 1982.

1.4.16 the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 (Amended 1992)

An Act to provide for public liability insurance for the purpose of providing immediate relief to the persons affected by accident occurring while handling any hazardous substance and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

1.4.17 The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010

An Act for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property.

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1.4.19 The Atomic Energy Act, 1962 (Amended 1987)

An Act to provide for the development, control and use of atomic energy for the welfare of the people of India and for other peaceful purposes and for matters connected therewith. There are also various Rules which are listed below: • The Atomic Energy (Radiation Protection) Rules, 2004 • The Atomic Energy (Working of Mines, Minerals and handling of Prescribed Substances) Rules, 1984 • The Atomic Energy (Safe Disposal of Radioactive Wastes) Rules, 1987 • The Atomic Energy (Radiation Processing of Food and Allied Products) Rules, 2012 • The Atomic Energy (Factories) Rules, 1996

1.4.20 The Electricity Act, 2003 (Amended 2007)

An Act to consolidate the laws relating to generation, transmission, distribution, trading and use of electricity and generally for taking measures conducive to development of electricity industry, promoting competition therein, protecting interest of consumers and supply of electricity to all areas, rationalisation of electricity tariff, ensuring transparent policies regarding subsidies, promotion of efficient and environmentally benign policies, constitution of Central Electricity Authority, Regulatory Commissions and establishment of Appellate Tribunal and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. There are also certain regulations with this Act and they are The Central Electricity Authority (Measures Relating to Safety & Electricity Supply) Regulations, 2010. The Central Electricity Authority (Safety Requirements for Construction, Operation and Maintenance of Electric Plants and Electric Lines) Regulations, 2011

1.4.21 The Energy Conservation Act, 2001 (amended 2010)

An Act to provide for efficient use of energy and its conservation and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Energy conservation plays a very important role because utilization of non-renewable resources also impacts our environment. Specially, usage of fossil fuels supplies to air and water pollution such as carbon dioxide is produced when oil, coal and gas combust in power stations, heating systems, and engines of car.

1.4.22 The Disaster Management Act, 2005

An Act to provide for effective management of disasters and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The Disaster Management Act provides for a detailed action plan right from the central government to the district and local levels to draw, implement and execute disaster management plans

To Conclude

Although lots of acts have been enacted, but less emphasis is laid on the preventive measures to avoid any untoward incidents. Moreover nothing has been done after the introduction of Industry 4.0, which had drawn the attention of World community at World Economic Forum meetings in 2015. In fact we need to strengthen implementing agencies so as to give relief to the workers for which all the above acts are mandated.

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