In this article, we will discuss Occupational Safety and Health in India. So, let’s get started.
Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) (Global Status)
- Globally, an estimated 2.9 million deaths and 402 million non-fatal injuries are attributed to occupational accidents and diseases.
- Occupational accidents and diseases cost 5.4% of the global GDP annually.
- While less tangibly, they materialise as presenteeism (working with less effectiveness), productivity losses associated with permanent impairment, and staff-turnover costs (i.e., loss of skilled staff).
Status of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) in India
- The available government statistics show a decreasing trend in occupational injuries in manufacturing and mining sectors.
- However, it needs to be noted that when interpreting the statistics of the Labour Bureau, 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.
- Byssinosis is a disease of the lungs caused by breathing in cotton dust or dust from other vegetable fibres such as flax, hemp, or sisal while at work.
- However, India has some good practices for extending OSH coverage as well.
- The Government of Uttar Pradesh, in cooperation with employers and workers, carried out participatory OSH training workshops for metal and garment home-based workers.
- Most of these workers are in the informal economy and remain unreachable by other occupational health and safety initiatives.
- The Government of Kerala applied the ILO’s participatory OSH training methodologies and reached out to small construction sites for OSH improvements.
- The Government of Rajasthan generated OSH awareness among workers and employers in stone processing units for preventing occupational lung diseases.
Initiatives taken to Promote OSH
- Since 2003, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has commemorated April 28 as World Day for Safety and Health at Work to stress the prevention of accidents and diseases at work by capitalising on our strength of tripartism and social dialogue.
- The theme for 2022 is “Act together to build a positive safety and health culture”.
- India has ratified International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions, the Labour Inspection Convention, 1947 and Labour Statistics Convention, 1985.
- The Government of India declared the National Policy on Safety, Health and Environment at Workplace in February 2009 and compiled the available OSH information as National OSH Profile in 2018.
- Another important step is launching a strategic National OSH Programme.
- 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.