In this article, we will discuss Occupational Safety in India. So, let’s get started.
Occupational Safety in India
Provisions for Ensuring Occupational Safety
- In India, the statistics concerning industrial accidents and eventually occupational safety are produced by the Labour Bureau, Ministry of Labour and Employment.
- The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 spells out duties of employers and employees, and envisages safety standards for different sectors, focusing on the health and working condition of workers, hours of work, leaves, etc.
- The code also recognises the right of contractual workers.
- The code provides for statutory benefits like social security and wages to fixed-term employees at par with their permanent counterparts.
- The code also brings in gender equality and empowers the women workforce.
- Women will be entitled to be employed in all establishments for all types of work and, with consent, can work before 6 am and beyond 7 pm subject to such conditions relating to safety, holidays and working hours.
- What are the Shortcomings of the Statistics Presented by the Labour Bureau?
- The available government statistics show a decreasing trend in occupational injuries in manufacturing and mining sectors. However, when interpreting the statistics, the unregistered factories and mines are not covered.
- During 2011-16, the number of cases of occupational diseases reported to the government in India was only 562. In contrast, a scientific article published in the National Medical Journal of India, 2016, indicates prevalence of occupational diseases such as silicosis and byssinosis.
- The Labour Bureau compiles and publishes data on industrial injuries relating only to a few sectors, viz. factories, mines, railways, docks and ports.
- The body has not yet expanded the scope of statistics on injuries by adding sectors such as plantations, construction, the service sector, etc.
- Also, the data produced is not representative of the situation in India as several major States default in the provision of data to the Labour Bureau.
- For example, during 2013-14, several major States such as Delhi, Gujarat, Kerala, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal defaulted, then the all-India statistics was reduced to that extent.
- Under-reporting is another serious issue which is more likely to be in case of non-fatal injuries than fatal ones for obvious reasons.
- There is massive under-reporting of industrial injuries in small-scale industries.
Status of Employing Factory Inspectors and Inspection Rates
- According to the Directorate General, Factory Advice and Labour Institutes (DGFASLI), in 2019, the proportion of working in sanctioned posts for factory inspectors (employment rate) for India was 70.60%.
- However, major States such as Maharashtra (38.93%), Gujarat (57.52%), Tamil Nadu (58.33%), and Bihar (47.62%) had poor employment rates of inspectors.
- In 2019, there was only one inspector for every 487 registered factories (one inspector for every 25,415 workers), thus revealing the heavy workload of inspectors.
- The inspection rates for all-India declined from 36.23% during 2008-11 to 34.65% during 2012-2015 and further to 24.76% in 2018-19.
- While Kerala and Tamil Nadu had higher inspection rates at 63%-66%, Gujarat and Maharashtra had lower rates at 26%-30% and Haryana the lowest at 11.09% during 2008-2019.
- The decline over the three sub-periods noted above for Maharashtra (31% to 12%) and Haryana (14% to 7%) was much higher (50% and over) than for others.
- The inspection rates fell in almost all the States over the last 12 years.