Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Legal Infrastructure on Industrial Safety - Part 1


At the global level, industrial safety has been drawing attention of international agencies such as ILO, WHO, UNDP, UNEP, etc. In fact, efforts are being made to consider and recognize occupational safety and health as one of the human rights.


Constitutional Provisions

The Constitution of India under the Directive Principles of State Policy provides for certain safeguards to workers. The State policies should be directed to ensure that health and strengths of workers are not abused and just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief that are provided. The Constitution prohibits employment of child below 14 years of age for work in any factory, or mine or any hazardous occupation. The constitution also provides for the State to make any special provision for women and children.

ILO Conventions

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is the standard making body in the area of labor and social issues. The ILO was established in the year 1919. Since then, they have formulated 188 Conventions relating to conditions of labor. In addition, they have also formulated several recommendations, codes of practices and guidelines for the benefit of member countries. As one of the founder members, India has so far ratified 41 Conventions.

As a step towards facilitating the ratification, a national policy on occupational safety, health and environment at workplace is already prepared by the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MOLE). The policy is under advanced stage of declaration.

National Policy On Occupational Safety, Health And Environment At Work

The national policy aims at improvement in the safety, health and environment at workplace (especially at Manufacturing sites, Chemical industries, software development companies) through:- (i) statutory framework on OSH in respect of all sectors of economic activities (ii) facilitation of technical support services (iii) providing incentives to employees and employers (iv) establishment and maintaining of R & D capabilities in the area of risk management (v) focusing on prevention strategies; and (vi) competence enhancement of technical manpower.

The policy sets its objective to achieve continuous reduction in work related injuries, diseases and associated costs; and continuous enhancement of awareness regarding safety, health and environment. The policy also outlines an Action Programme for achieving these objectives and goals. It identifies 9 key strategies :-
1. Enforcement
2. Development of national standards
3. Compliance
4. Awareness
5. Research and development
6. Skills development
7. Data collection
8. Practical guidance
9. Incentives

National Policies On Other Subjects

The Government of India have also formulated National Environment Policy, National Policy on Petroleum, Chemicals and Petro-chemical Investment Regions (PCPIR), Policy on Information Technology Investment Regions, National Fertilizer Policy, etc. These policies also contain reference to the occupational safety and health aspects of working population. Apart from these, at the instance of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), a national programme on ‘Elimination of Silicosis’ is being formulated.

Further, a separate legislation concerning safety, health, social security and welfare of workers employed in unorganized sectors is also being contemplated by software development company in india.

Tripartite Consultations

The MOLE has put in place a tripartite consultative mechanism in the form of Indian Labour Conference (ILC), to discuss the issues relating to labour including occupational safety and health. The ILC is assisted by another tripartite forum, Standing Labour Committee (SLC) which frames the agenda for the ILC. Further, MOLE has also constituted Tripartite Committee on ILO Conventions which addresses the issue of ratification of ILO Conventions. In addition, Tripartite Committees are also constituted as per the enabling provisions under various statutes concerning safety and health.


1. Constitution of India
2. The Factories Act, 1948
3. The Model Rules under the Factories Act, 1948;
4. Annual Report 2007-2008; Ministry of Labour &
5. DGFASLI Standard Reference Note 2006; DGFASLI
April 2007
6. www.ilo.org
7. www.labour.nic.in
8. www.dgfasli.nic.in

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