Health is the state of well-being. It not only includes physical well-being, but also mental and emotional well-being. It is the responsibility of every employer to provide healthy work environment to his employees. If he is careful about their health, cost of disability payments, replacement of employees who are injured or killed could be avoided. Through employee safety and health programs the company can enhance the emotional and physical well-being of the employees.
The Factories Act, 1948, has been promulgated primarily to provide safety measures and to promote the health and welfare of the workers employed in factories. The object thus brings this Act, within the competence of the Central Legislature to enact. State Governments/Union Territory Administrations have been empowered under certain provisions of this Act, to make rules, to give effect to the objects and the scheme of the Act.
Applicability: This Act applies to factories, which qualify the definition of “Factory” under the section 2(m) of the Act or to those industrial establishments, to whom section 85 have been made applicable by the State Government, by notification in the Official Gazette. This applies to any premises wherein 10 or more persons with the aid of power or wherein 20 or more workers without aid of power are/were working on any day in the preceding 12 months, wherein manufacturing process is being carried on.
The main focus of Factories Act is towards the Health benefits to the workers. Health Chapter of the Act contains specification from Section 11 to 20. Detailed information of the sections of is provided as under:
Section 11: This section basically specifies the issues of cleanliness at the workplace. It is mentioned in the provision that every factory shall be kept clean and free from effluvia arising from any drain, privy or other nuisance. This includes that there should be no accumulation of dirt and refuse and should be removed daily and entire area should be kept clean.
Section 12: This section specifies on disposal of wastes and effluents. That every factory should make effective arrangements for the treatment of wastes and effluents due to the manufacturing process carried on therein, so as to render them innocuous and for their disposal.
Section 13: This section focuses on ventilation and temperature maintenance at workplace. Every factory should work on proper arrangements for adequate ventilation and circulation of fresh air.
Section 14: This section details on the proper exhaustion of dust and fume in the Factory. In this it is mentioned that factory which deals on manufacturing process should take care of the proper exhaustion of dust, fume and other impurities from its origin point.
Section 15: This section specifies regarding the artificial humidification in factories. In this the humidity level of air in factories are artificially increased as per the provision prescribed by the State Government.
Section 16: Overcrowding is also an important issue which is specified in this section. In this it is mentioned that no room in the factory shall be overcrowded to an extent that can be injurious to the health of workers employed herein.
Section 18: This section specifies regarding arrangements for sufficient and pure drinking water for the workers. There are also some specified provisions for suitable point for drinking water supply. As in that drinking water point should not be within 6 meters range of any washing place, urinal, latrine, spittoon, open drainage carrying effluents. In addition to this a factory where there are more than 250 workers provisions for cooling drinking water during hot temperature should be made.
Section 19: This section provides details relating to urinals and latrine construction at factories. It mentions that in every factory there should be sufficient accommodation for urinals which should be provided at conveniently situated place. It should be kept clean and maintained. There is provision to provide separate urinals for both male and female workers.
Section 20: This section specifies regarding proper arrangements of spittoons in the factory. It is mentioned that in every factory there should be sufficient number of spittoons situated at convenient places and should be properly maintained and cleaned and kept in hygienic condition.
What are the provisions relating to safety for employees working in factories and the manufacturing process addressed by the Factories Act, 1948?
The Factories Act, 1948 also provides provisions relating to safety measures for the workers employed herein. This is to ensure safety of workers working on or around the machines. The detailed information on each provision relating to safety measures is as under:
Section 17: Under section it has been described that there should be proper arrangement of lighting in factories. In every part of the factory where workers are working or passing should be well equipped with lighting arrangement either by natural sources or artificial sources.
Section 21: This section specifies that fencing of machinery is necessary. That any moving part of the machinery or machinery that is dangerous in kind should be properly fenced.
Section 23: This section prescribes that employment of young person on dangerous machinery is not allowed. In the case where he is been fully instructed in the usage of the machinery and working under the supervision he might be allowed to work on it.
Section 24: This section provides provision of striking gear and devices for cutting off power in case of emergency. Every factory should have special devices for cutting off of power in emergencies from running machinery. Suitable striking gear appliances should be provided and maintained for moving belts.
Section 28: This section prohibits working of women and children on specific machinery. As per this section women and children should not be appointed for any part of factory working on cotton pressing.
Section 32: In this section it has been specified that all floors, stairs, passages and gangways should be properly constructed and maintained, so that there are no chances of slips or fall.
Section 34: This section specifies that no person in any factory shall be employed to lift, carry or move any load so heavy that might cause in injury. State Government may specify maximum amount of weight to be carried by workers.
Section 35: This section provides specification regarding safety and protection of eyes of workers. It mentions that factory should provide specific goggles or screens to the workers who are involved in manufacturing work that may cause them injury to eyes.
Section 36: As per this section it is provided that no worker shall be forced to enter any chamber, tank, vat, pit, pipe, flue or other confined space in any factory in which any gas, fume, vapour or dust is likely to be present to such an extent as to involve risk to persons being overcome thereby.
Section 38: As per this section there should be proper precautionary measures built for fire. There should be safe mean to escape in case of fire, and also necessary equipments and facilities to extinguish fire.
Section 45: This section specifies that in every factory there should be proper maintained and well equipped first aid box or cupboard with the prescribed contents. For every 150 workers employed at one time, there shall not be less than 1 first aid box in the factory. Also, in case where there are more than 500 workers there should be well maintained ambulance room of prescribed size and containing proper facility.
Industrial health is needed to:
(a) Improve productivity of employees and the quality of their work. Healthy employees are more productive and give quality performance.
(b) Protect workers against any health hazard arising out of work conditions.
(c) Preserve physical and mental health of all employees.
(d) Reduce absenteeism, turnover, injuries and accidents.
(e) To improve the confidence of employees in their work environment. Industrial health improves the morale of employees.
Recent years have witnessed rapid increase in the use of sophisticated machinery and plants in the industry. While technical progress in industry has made it possible to eliminate certain physically exacting jobs, it has also made work in the industry riskier. Workers’ safety, thus, has assumed more importance in recent times.
There is no doubt that proper precautionary measures coupled with the inculcation of safety consciousness among workers can go a long way in preventing industrial accidents which may result in loss of life and property. An unsafe or unhealthy work environment can affect employees’ ability and motivation to work.
Poor safety and health conditions are likely to endanger fulfilment of the security needs of employees, and hence the importance of regulatory measures by various organizations in different sectors. Safety hazards are those aspects of working conditions which can cause immediate and sometimes violent harm to an employee. Examples of such loses are loss of hearing, eye sight, or body parts; sprains and broken bones; and burns and electric shocks.
One can reasonably hold the top management responsible to make health and safety of the employees a major enterprise objective, particularly in a manufacturing organization. This could be a policy issue. Operating managers are also responsible, because accidents and injuries will take place, and health hazards will exist, in the work unit.
Another very significant department responsible for health and safety is the personnel department. In large enterprises, personnel have a separate health and safety department. The personnel specialists help the supervisors, where they can encourage safe behaviour on the part of the employees, control safety violations, and help investigate accidents and injuries.