An Insight into Occupational Safety & Health at Workplace in India

Jitu Patel, CPEA, Ambassador - ME, India & SE Asia, and Ashok Garlapati, CSP, QEP, CMIOSH, Global VP
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Jitu Patel, CPEA, Ambassador - ME, India & SE Asia, and Ashok Garlapati, CSP, QEP, CMIOSH, Global VP
American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) is a U.S. based non-profit organization responsible for framing the standards for Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) excellence and ethics. It also promotes the expertise, leadership and commitment of its members by providing them with professional development, advocacy and standards development.

The economy of India is the sixth largest economy in the world measured by nominal GDP and the third largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). The country is classified as a newly industrialized country, one of the G-20 major economies, a member of BRICS and a developing economy with an average annual growth rate of approximately seven percent over the last two decades. India, a growing economy and world's largest democracy, has population exceeding 1.25 billion, of which 65 percent of them are below the age of 35. The long-term growth prospective of the Indian economy is positive due to its young population. The Indian economy has the potential to become the world's third largest economy by the next decade, and one of the two largest economies by mid-century. More than 90 percent work in the informal economy mainly comprises of agriculture and services. Less than 10 percent work in the organized sector; mainly industry, mining and some services. New service industries like Information Technology (IT) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) are increasing rapidly, and so is the proportion of women in the workforce.

The occupational safety and health (OS&H) scenario in India is complex in nature. Constitutional provisions form the basis of workplace safety and health laws in India by imposing a duty on the State to implement policies that promote the safety and health of workers at workplaces. In addition, safety and health statutes for regulating occupational safety and health of persons at work exist in different sectors namely manufacturing, mining, ports and construction. The regulations in place in these four sectors include the Factories Act-1948 as amended in 1987, the Dock Workers (Safety, Health and Welfare) Act - 1986, the Building and other Construction Workers (Regulation and the Employment and Conditions of Service) Act - 1996, the Child labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act - 1986, the Mines Act - 1952, as amended in 1957, and the Mines Rules - 1957.

In addition, there are also other specific regulations on particular hazards or focused on particular sectors and territories. Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) in India is the primary responsibility of the Ministry of Labour and other State Labour Departments in the country. The Ministry of Labour has also issued a National Policy on Safety, Health and Environment at the Workplace. The Directorate General, Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes (DGFASLI) is an attached office to the Ministry of Labour which liaises with the State Factory Inspectorates and advises them on the administration of the Factories Act - 1948. The DGFASLI provides training to inspectors of factories and technical personnel from the industries and also conducts multi-disciplinary surveys in industries and ports.

The Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS) assists the Ministry of Labour in the technical aspects of occupational Health & Safety in mines. DGMS is subordinate to the office of the Ministry of Labour and through drafting appropriate legislation and setting standards by overseeing compliance as intensively as its resources permit, and through a variety of promotional initiatives and awareness programs, the DGMS exercises preventive as well as educational influence over the mining industry.

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