SAFETY AND HEALTH OF FACTORY WORKERS
The Factories Act, 1948, has been enacted to provide safety measures and to promote the health and welfare of the workers employed in factories. 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.
HEALTH PROVISIONS UNDER FACTORIES ACT,1948
- CLEANLINESS IN THE FACTORY:-Section 11 ensures that a factory is kept clean and it is free from effluvia arising from any drain, privy or other nuisance.
- DISPOSAL OF WASTE AND EFFLUENTS:-Section 12 specifies 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.
- VENTILATION AND TEMPERATURE:-Section 13 focuses on ventilation and temperature maintenance at workplace. Every factory should work on proper arrangements for adequate ventilation and circulation of fresh air.
- DUST AND FUME:-Section 14 focuses on the proper exhaustion of dust and fume in the factory. It is specified that factory which deals on manufacturing process should take care of the proper exhaustion of dust, fume and other impurities from its origin point.
- ARTIFICIAL HUMIDIFICATION:-Section 15 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.
- OVERCROWDING:-Section 16 specifies a very important issue that is overcrowding. In this section, 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.
- LIGHTING:-Section 17 of the act specifies that every factory must provide and maintain sufficient and suitable lighting, natural, artificial, or both, in every part of the factory where workers are working or passing.
- DRINKING WATER:-Section 18 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.
- URINALS AND LATRINE:-Section 19 provides details relating to urinals and latrine construction at factories. It specifies 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.
- SPITTOONS:-Section 20 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.
- FIRST AID APPLIANCES:-Section 45 specifies the rules regarding the first aid and it states:-
(1)There shall in every factory be provided and maintained so as to be readily accessible during all working hours first-aid boxes or cupboards equipped with the prescribed contents, and the number of such boxes or cupboards to be provided and maintained shall not be less than one for every one hundred and fifty workers ordinarily employed [at any one time] in the factory.
(2) Nothing except the prescribed contents shall be kept in a first-aid box or cupboard.
(3) Each first-aid box or cupboard shall be kept in the charge of a separate responsible person [who holds a certificate in first-aid treatment recognized by the State Government] and who shall always be readily available during the working hours of the factory.]
(4) In every factory wherein more than five hundred workers are [ordinarily employed] there shall be provided and maintained an ambulance room of the prescribed size, containing the prescribed equipment and in the charge of such medical and nursing staff as may be prescribed 6[and those facilities shall always be made readily available during the working hours of the factory.
A local court here sentenced vice-chairman-cum-CEO of Hawkins Cookers Limited, and Hoshiarpur factory manager to six-months imprisonment for not maintaining an ambulance room on the factory premises.
The court of chief judicial magistrate also imposed a fine of Rs. 25,000 each on the CEO Subhadip Dutta Choudhary and manager Sandeep Singh Toor.
The court found both guilty for violating the provisions of Section 45 of the Factories Act, 1948, and Rule 70 of the Punjab Factories Rules, 1952. They also committed the offence punishable under Section 92/94 of the Factories Act, 1948, for compromising the safety of the workers, observed the court, on a complaint of Dwarka Dass, assistant director, factories, who is now posted as deputy director, factories in Jalandhar.
The orders read that in spite of having more than 500 workers (ordinarily employed), the company has not provided and maintained as ambulance room of prescribed equipment along with medical and nursing staff in violation of the Factories Act.
An inspection conducted by assistant director, directorate of factories, Punjab labour department Ishu Sanghar on December 3, 2015, found irregularities in the factory and the company officials were asked to rectify the shortcomings within three months. However, the company failed to provide facilities to its workers and the inspections team that visited the factory on April 27,2016, found glaring violations of the Factories Act and the company was penalized.
The complainant told the court that at time of inspection in 2016, team found over 700 employees working in the factory. Later, the department moved to the court to ensure action against the firm.
As per the factory rules, there should be an occupational health centre and a full-time medical officer where 200 workers are employed, canteen where 250 employees are working, ambulance room with 500 workforce and a worker welfare officer in a factory having an employee strength of 1,000. The Act the ambulance room should be used for providing first-aid and rest to injured workers.
The company officials pleaded in the court that the number of ordinary employees/workers at the time of inspection was below 500 and as per the Act, it was not mandatory to have an ambulance room and other facilities.
This post is written by Dipti Prakash of Punjab University. For more info on subject, please dial 99888-17966.