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Occupational Safety & Health

Context: In the wake of the incident Silkyara Tunnel collapse , the Central Trade Unions have urged the Union government to ratify the labour conventions.

About Occupational Health & safety: 

  • It is also known as workplace health and safety (WHS) or occupational safety and health (OSH), is a multidisciplinary field concerned with the well-being, health, and safety of people at work. 
  • The primary goal of occupational health and safety is to create and maintain a safe and healthy work environment, preventing accidents, injuries, and illnesses related to work activities.

Key components of occupational health and safety: 

Provisions for ensuring occupational safety in India: 

Constitutional provision: 

  • Article 39(e): The health of men, women and children should be protected, and children should be given opportunity and facility for healthy development.
  • Article 42: States that humane conditions at work and maternity relief should be provided.

International Labour Organization (ILO):

  • Labour Inspection Convention, 1947: To promote and improve labour inspection in various countries.
  • Labour Statistics Convention, 1985: On the standardization and improvement of labour statistics to facilitate international comparisons and promote informed decision-making in the field of labour.
  • World Day for Safety and Health at Work: It observed annually on April 28th for promoting safe, healthy, and decent working environments and raising awareness.
  • Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020: To ensure that the workplace is free from hazards and provide free annual health examinations or tests, free of cost to certain classes of employees.
  • The Directorate General of Factory Advisory Services & Labour Institutes (DGFASLI): It serves as a technical arm of the ministry and assists in formulating national policies on occupational safety and health in factories and docks. It also advises factories on problems concerning safety, health, efficiency and well-being of every employee.

Challenges related to occupational health and safety: 

  1. Inadequate safety measures: Instances like Silkyara Tunnel collapse underscore the risks they face, including building collapses and industrial accidents due to inadequate safety measures.
  2. Lack of doctors: On the various occupational diseases and workplace hazards and risks.
  3. Data related to few sector: Labour Bureau compiles and publishes data on industrial injuries relating only to a few sectors, viz. factories, mines, railways, docks and ports.
  4. Lack of regulatory compliance : For registered factories nationwide decreased from 36.23% in the period of 2008-11 to 24.76% in the fiscal year 2019-20.
  5. Inadequate human resource: For effective monitoring like in Major States such as Maharashtra (38.93%), Gujarat (57.52%), Tamil Nadu (58.33%), and Bihar (47.62%) had poor employment rates of inspectors.

Way forward to strengthen occupational health and safety: 

  1. India should ratified ILO Occupational Safety and Health Convention to promote and ensure the safety and health of workers in the workplace.
  2. Setting up emergency standards for hazardous company in India under Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code.
  3. Establishment of Occupational Safety, Health (OSH)committees and involve workers for identifying hazards and improving OSH.
  4. The labour codes, especially the OSH Code, the inspection and the labour statistical systems need to be reviewed as the Government is in the process of framing theVision@2047 document for the Labour Ministry.

Key findings of ‘A Call for Safer and Healthier Working Environments’ report by the International Labour Organization (ILO): 

  • Over 63% of fatalities occur in the Asia-Pacific region, primarily attributed to the absence of a robust safety net.
  • Threats to workers: Long working hours, exposure to particulate matter, gases, and fumes, and occupational injuries are major causes. Mining, construction, and utilities are the most hazardous sectors.
  • The health of the workers has several determinants, including risk factors at the workplace leading to cancers, accidents, musculoskeletal diseases, respiratory diseases, hearing loss, circulatory diseases, stress related disorders, communicable diseases and others. 


This post first appeared on IAS Compass By Rau's IAS, please read the originial post: here

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