Health and safety of the employees are important aspects in an organization's smooth and effective functioning. Good health and safety environment ensures an accident-free industrial set up. Maintenance of occupational safety and health is very closely related to productivity and good employer-employee relationship. Awareness of Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) has improved in India considerably. Achieving high OH&S performance has become one of the key aspects of business activities.
Management of Occupational Health and Safety demands adoption of a structured approach for the identification of hazards, their evaluation and control of risks in the organisation. Bureau of Indian Standards has formulated an Indian Standard on OH&S management systems. It is called as the IS 18001:2000 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems. This standard prescribes requirements for an OH&S Management Systems to enable an organization to formulate a policy and objectives, taking into account legislative requirements and information about significant hazards and risks, which the organization can control and over which it can be expected to have an influence, to protect its employees and others, whose health and safety may be affected by the activities of the organization. All the requirements in this standard are intended to be incorporated into any OH&S management system. This standard also provides informative guidance on the use of the specification.
Organizations interested in obtaining licence for OH&S Management System as per IS 18001 should ensure that they are operating the system according to this standard. The organization should apply on the prescribed proforma ( Form IV ) at the nearest Regional Office of BIS along with Questionnaire ( Form X ) and the prescribed application fee. The application shall be signed by the proprietor or the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the organization or any other person authorised to sign on behalf of the organization. The name and designation of the person signing the application must be recorded legibly in a space set apart for the purpose in the application form. Each application must be accompanied by a documented Occupational Health and Safety Management System Documentation (such as OHS manual etc.)
The Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS) and the Directorate General of Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes (DGFASLI) are the two field organisations of the Ministry of Labour and Employment in the area of occupational safety and health in mines, factories and ports. The Directorate General, Factory Advice Service & Labour Institutes (DGFASLI), Mumbai,which is an attached office of the Ministry of Labour and Employment,functions as a technical arm of the Ministry in regard to matters concerned with safety, health and welfare of workers in factories and ports/docks. Directorate General of Mines Safety is the Indian Goverment Regulatory agency for safety in mines and oil-fields. The mission of the DGMS is to continually improve safety and health standards, practices and performance in the mining industry and upstream petroleum industry.
The major legislations relating to Occupational Health and Safety in India are:-
The Factories Act,1948
- It regulates health, safety, welfare and other working conditions of workers in factories.
- It is enforced by the State Governments through their factory inspectorates. The Directorate General Factory Advice Service & Labour Institutes (DGFASLI) co-ordinates matters concerning safety, health and welfare of workers in the factories with the State Governments.
- DGFASLI conducts training, studies and surveys on various aspects relating to safety and health of workers through the Central Labour Institute in Mumbai and three other Regional Labour Institutes located at Calcutta, Chennai and Kanpur.
Mines Act, 1952
- It contains provisions for measures relating to the health, safety and welfare of workers in the coal, metalliferous and oil mines.
- The Mines Act, 1952, prescribed duties of the owner (defined as the proprietor, lessee or an agent) to manage mines and mining operation and the health and safety in mines. It also prescribes the number of working hours in mines, the minimum wage rates, and other related matters.
- Directorate General of Mines Safety conducts inspections and inquiries, issues competency tests for the purpose of appointment to various posts in the mines, organises seminars/conferences on various aspects of safety of workers.
- Courts of Inquiry are set up by the Central Government to investigate into the accidents, which result in the death of 10 or above miners. Both penal and pecuniary punishments are prescribed for contravention of obligation and duties under the Act.
Dock Workers (Safety, Health & Welfare) Act, 1986
- It contains provisions for the health, safety and welfare of workers working in ports/docks.
- It is administered by Director General Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes, Directorate General FASLI as the Chief Inspector there are inspectorates of dock safety at 10 major ports in India viz. Calcutta, Mumbai, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Paradip, Kandla, Mormugao, Tuticorin, Cochin and New Mangalore
- overall emphasis in the activities of the inspectorates is to contain the accident rates and the number of accidents at the ports.
Besides, there is also a National Policy on Safety,Health and Environment at work place. The main objectives of the policy are to achieve the following:-
- Continuous reduction in the incidence of work related injuries, fatalities, diseases, disaster and loss of national assets.
- Continuous reduction in the cost of work place injuries and diseases.
- Extend coverage of work related injuries, fatalities, and diseases for a more comprehensive data base as a means of better performance and monitoring.
- Continuous enhancement of community awareness regarding safety, health and environment at workplace related areas.
- Enhance the well-being of the employee and society at large.
The major hurdles present in management of occupational safety and health risks at workplaces pertains to changing job patterns and working relationships, the rise in self employment, greater sub-contracting, outsourcing of work, homework and the increasing number of employees working away from their establishment. Also the effects of computer controlled technologies and rising influence of stress at work in many modern jobs may pose serious safety, health and environmental risks. Hence, an employer needs to make all possible efforts to eliminate all such hurdles and provide a labour friendly work environment.