IAS Target

The Occupational Safety , Health and Working Condition Code-2019

Health, Safety, welfare and improved Working Conditions are necessary for the economic growth of the nation and welfare of workers. As healthy manpower of the nation would be more productive and the occurrence of fewer injuries or accidents would be economically advantageous for the employers also. A safe work environment is a fundamental right as per article (21) of the Indian constitution and India’s recent years of high growth should have ushered in a framework of guarantees.
Although, the record of India in promoting industrial and occupational safety remains fragile even with years of vigorous economic growth. Keeping the work environment safer is a low priority, however, the productivity benefits of such expenditure have always been apparent. On 23rd July 2019, the ministry of labour and employment introduced “The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019” in Lok Sabha. The code applies to establishment hiring minimum 10 workers and to all docks and mines, but it doesn’t apply to apprentice. Moreover, it makes specific provisions for particular types of classes and establishments of employees like mines, buildings, construction, and factory workers.

The provisions of the bill

The Code cancels/repeals and replaces all the 13 labour laws relating to health, safety and working conditions. These include
  • the Factories Act, 1948,
  • the Mines Act, 1952, and
  • the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970.
Appropriate or relevant authorities All establishments covered by the Code must be registered with registering officers. Moreover, Inspector-cum-facilitators may investigate into accidents, and conduct inspections of establishments. Both these authorities are hired by the state and central government. In addition to this, the government may need certain establishments to set up safety committees containing representatives of workers and employers.
Assisting or Advisory Bodies The state and central governments will set up Occupational, Safety and Health Advisory Boards at both state and national level respectively. These Boards will advise the state and central governments on the rules, regulations and standards to be structured under the Code.
Duties of employers The Code identifies several duties of employers. These include:
  • providing a workplace that is free from risk that may cause disease or injury,
  • providing free annual health examinations to employees, as mentioned.
In case of an injury or accident at the workplace that leads to serious bodily injury or even death of an employee, the employer must notify or inform the appropriate authorities.
Duties and Rights of employees Duties of employees under the Code involve:
  • taking care of their own safety and health,
  • report to the inspector if find unsafe situations.
Every employee has the right to obtain information from the employer related to health and safety standards.
Working Hours Work hours for different classes of employees and establishment will be provided as per the rules directed by the state and central government. For overtime work, the employee will be paid double the rate of daily wages. Female workers with their permission, may work past 7:00 pm and before 6:00 am if granted by the state or central government.
Leave No worker may work for more than six days a week. Though, exceptions may be provided for motor transport workers. Workers should receive paid annual leave, minimum one in twenty days of the period of spending on the job. For sales promotion employees, medical leave should be offered for at least 1/18th of the service period.
Good facilities and working conditions The employer is needed to provide a hygienic or safe work environment with a comfortable temperature, clean drinking water, urinal and latrine accommodations, and sufficient space. Other good facilities may be offered as per norms prescribed by the state or central government. These facilities may involve detached bathing places, canteens, first aid boxes, locker rooms for both female, male and transgender employees too.
Offences and penalties Under this code, an offence that leads to the death of a worker will be punished with imprisonment of two years and a fine of around 5 lakh rupees. Also, courts may direct that minimum 50 percent of such fine given as compensation to the victim's heir. For any other violation where the penalty is not specified, the employer will be penalized with a fine up to 3 lakh rupees. In case if any employee violates the provision of the code, will be subject to a fine of ten thousand rupees.

Conclusion

Recent code has the provision of both healthy and safe working conditions. At the same time coverage increase to all sectors from 9 of companies, ten or more than ten employees. This code serves both employees and employers. Additionally, it drastically rationalizes the compliance tool with one registration, one return, and one license for the establishments under the code, thereby saving efforts of the employers and resources. This bill may aid India to implement its ease of doing business rank and to attain the SDG 2015-30.