There has been rise of large scale factory/ industry in India in the later half of nineteenth century. Major Moore, Inspector-in- Chief of the Bombay Cotton Department, in his Report in 1872-73 first of all raised the question for the provision of legislation to regulate the working condition in factories; the first Factories act was enacted in 1881. Since then the act has been amended on many occasions. The Factories Act 1934 was passed replacing all the previous legislation in regard to factories. This act was drafted in the light of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Labour. This Act has also been amended suitably from time to time.
The experience of working of the Factories Act, 1934 had revealed a number of defects and weakness which have hampered effective administration of the Act, and the need for wholesale revision of the act to extend its protective provisions to the large number of smaller industrial establishments was felt. Therefore, the Factories Act, 1948 consolidating and amending the law relating to labour in factories, was passed by the Constituent Assembly on August 28, 1948. The Act received the assent of Governor General of India on 23 September 1948 and came into force on April 1, 1949.
Objective of Factories Act ,1948
The main objectives of the Indian Factories Act, 1948are to regulate the working conditions in factories, to regulate health, safety welfare, and annual leave and enact special provision in respect of young persons, women and children who work in the factories.
1. Working Hours
According to the provision of working hours of adults, no adult worker shall be required or allowed to work in a factory for more than 48 hours in a week. There should be a weekly holiday.
For protecting the health of workers, the Act lays down that every factory shall be kept clean and all necessary precautions shall be taken in this regard. The factories should have proper drainage system, adequate lighting, ventilation, temperature etc.
Adequate arrangements for drinking water should be made. Sufficient latrine and urinals should be provided at convenient places. These should be easily accessible to workers and must be kept cleaned.
In order to provide safety to the workers, the Act provides that the machinery should be fenced, no young person shall work at any dangerous machine, in confined spaces, there should be provision for manholes of adequate size so that in case of emergency the workers can escape.
For the welfare of the workers, the Act provides that in every factory adequate and suitable facilities for washing should be provided and maintained for the use of workers.
Facilities for storing and drying clothing, facilities for sitting, first-aid appliances, shelters, rest rooms’ and lunch rooms, crèches, should be there.
The provisions of The Factories Act, 1948, or any rules made under the Act, or any order given in writing under the Act is violated, it is treated as an offence. The following penalties can be imposed:-
(a) Imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year;
(b) Fine which may extend to one lakh rupees; or
(c) Both fine and imprisonment.
Applicability of Factories Act, 1948
The Act is applicable to any factory whereon ten or more workers are working, or were working on any day of the preceding twelve months, and in any part of which a manufacturing process is being carried on with the aid of power, or is ordinarily so carried on, or whereon twenty or more workers are working, or were working on any day of the preceding twelve months, and in any part of which a manufacturing process is being carried on without the aid of power, or is ordinarily so carried on; but this does not include a mine, or a mobile unit belonging to the armed forces of the union, a railway running shed or a hotel, restaurant or eating place.
Importance of Factories Act, 1948
The Factories Act, 1948 is a beneficial legislation. The aim and object of the Act is essentially to safeguard the interests of workers, stop their exploitation and take care of their safety, hygiene and welfare at their places of work. It casts various obligations, duties and responsibilities on the occupier of a factory and also on the factory manager. Amendments to the Act and court decisions have further extended the nature and scope of the concept of occupier, especially vis-a-vis hazardous processes in factories.
Duties of Factory Manager
The Duties of Factory Manager are mentioned in the following Sections of Factory Act, 1948: –
1. Right of Workers to be warned about imminent danger (Section 41-H)
It shall be the duty of such occupier, agent, manager or the person in charge of the factory or process to take immediate remedial action if he is satisfied about the existence of such imminent danger in the factory where the worker is engaged in any hazardous process and send a report forthwith of the action taken to the nearest Inspector.
2. Notice of periods of work for adults (Section 61)
The manager of the factory shall display correctly and maintained in every factory in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (2) of section 108, a notice of periods of work for adults, showing clearly for every day the periods during which adult workers may be required to work, fix the periods during which each relay of the group may be required to work, classify them into groups according to the nature of their work indicating the number of workers in each group, shall draw up a scheme of shifts where under the periods during which any relay of the group may be required to work.
3. Register of Adult Workers (Section 62)
The manager of every factory shall maintain a register of adult workers, to be available to the Inspector at all times during working hours, or when any work is being carried on in the factory.
4. Annual Leave with Wage (Section 79)
For the purpose of ensuring the continuity of work, the occupier or manager of the factory, in agreement with the Works Committee of the factory constituted under section 3 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (14 of 1947), or a similar Committee constituted under any other Act or if there is no such Works Committee or a similar Committee in the factory, in agreement with the representatives of the workers therein chosen in the prescribed manner, may lodge with the Chief Inspector a scheme in writing whereby the grant of leave allowable under this section may be regulated.
5. Notice of Certain Dangerous Occurrences (Section 88A)
Notice of certain dangerous occurrences. —Where in a factory any dangerous occurrence of such nature as may be prescribed occurs, whether causing any bodily injury or disability or not, the manager of the factory shall send notice thereof to such authorities, and in such form and within such time, as may be prescribed.
6. Notice of Certain Disease (Section 89)
Where any worker in a factory contracts any disease specified in 1[the Third Schedule], the manager of the factory shall send notice thereof to such authorities, and in such form and within such time, as may be prescribed.
7. Safety and Occupational Health Survey (Section 91-A)
The occupier or manager of the factory or any other person who for the time being purports to be in charge of the factory, undertake safety and occupational health surveys, and such occupier or manager or other person shall afford all facilities for such every, including facilities for the examination and testing of plant and machinery and collection of samples and other data relevant to the survey.
8. Notice of Certain Accidents (Section 88)
Where in any factory an accident occurs which causes death, or which causes any bodily injury by reason of which the person injured is prevented from working for a period of forty-eight hours or more immediately following the accident, or which is of such nature as may be prescribed in this behalf, the manager of the factory shall send notice thereof to such authorities, and in such form and within such time, as may be prescribed to the Chief Inspector.
The present Factories Act in operation for the last 37 years has provided ample benefits to the factory workers. It has considerably improved their working and employment conditions. The Government is actively considering the introduction of some vital amendments to the Act to keep it in tune with time and make it more effective While dealing with the duties of the Occupier and Factory Manager under Factories Act 1948, altogether we can conclude that the Occupier and Factory Manager has a vital role to play in assuring the health, safety and welfare of the workers as they are the backbone of the industrial sector. It is, however necessary that the workers and their representatives make themselves aware of the various provisions of the Act and safeguard their interests on their own and force the defaulting employer to be conscious of his legal obligations.