Health and safety concerns at work
Health and safety concerns of employees are gaining more and more importance in the current work environment. They have become factors contributing to workers welfare and are thus considered while studying workers’ job satisfaction.
A wider interpretation needs to be attributed to the concept of health and safety at work. This is because apart from occupational health and safety matters it also covers the adversities developing from working conditions. Stress, short temperedness and such other problems due to conditions of work involving night shifts, long working hours, etc. are some examples of such adversities. Though such adversities are not specifically provided for, provisions have been made under Constitution to ensure occupational health and safety of workers. Article 24, 39(e), 39(f) and 42 of the Constitution provides for the same.
Statutes have also been framed in this regards affording provisions ensuring health and safety at work. Factories Act, 1948, Mines act, 1952, Dock workers (safety, health and welfare) Act, 1986, etc. are legislations which lays down specific provisions ensuring health and safety of workers. These legislations consolidates law regulating health of workers by making provisions with regards to matters like cleanliness, ventilation, manner of disposing waste and effluents, etc. Also safety measures with respect to workers working on dangerous machines or work involving hazardous processes, aerial ropeways, loading and unloading ships, etc. are provided for.
Legislations provide safety norms especially for working women and children, like the Factories Act, 1948 which prohibits employment of women and children near cotton openers. The shift timings and work hours for women and children employed in factories, mines, etc. are also regulated by statutes.
Also implementation of these legislations can be witnessed in Gujarat where now the provisions of the Factories Act, 1948 will apply to classes or places of Schedule XVII and Schedule XVIII which cover units with single worker. This was done with a view to fix the responsibilities for occupational hazards in cases of silicosis among the agate workers1. Also the government is considering amendments in Factories Act, 1948 and ratification of ILO conventions related to occupational safety and health to enlarge scope of health and safety provisions for workers2.
Besides that, there are other legislations providing health and safety measures for workers like Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 and Employees State Insurance Act, 1948. These legislations safeguard interests of workers who suffer from any such occupational diseases or accidents or any problem covered under this legislations.
All the above legislation mostly covers those employed in organized sector. There is dire need to enhance the scope of these legislations to cover untapped unorganized sectors. On the positive end, ensuring such health and safety measures not only boosts employee morale but also reduces absenteeism. This will certainly increase the productivity of an employee and the organization and thus, benefiting the economy of the nation.
- Palak Lotiya (views expressed in the article are that of the author
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