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Key Regulations:
Occupational Health and Safety (OH & S)
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Health and safety of the employees is an important aspect of a company's smooth and successful functioning. It is a decisive factor in organizational effectiveness. It ensures an accident-free industrial environment. Companies must attach the same importance towards achieving high OH&S performance as they do to the other key objectives of their business activities. This is because, proper attention to the safety and welfare of the employees can yield valuable returns to a company by improving employee morale, reducing absenteeism and enhancing productivity, minimizing potential of work-related injuries and illnesses and increasing the quality of manufactured products and/ or rendered services.

The Constitution of India has also specified provisions for ensuring occupational health and safety for workers in the form of three Articles i.e. 24, 39(e and f) and 42. The regulation of labour and safety in mines and oil fields is under the Union list. While the welfare of labour including conditions of work, provident funds, employers' invalidity and old age pension and maternity benefit are in the Concurrent list.

The Ministry of Labour , Government of India and Labour Departments of the States and Union Territories are responsible for safety and health of workers. Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS) and Directorate General Factory Advice Services & Labour Institutes (DGFASLI) assist the Ministry in technical aspects of occupational safety and health in mines and factories & ports sectors, respectively.

DGMS exercises preventive as well as educational influence over the mining industry. Its mission is the reduction in risks of occupational diseases and casualty to persons employed in mines, by drafting appropriate legislation and setting standards and through a variety of promotional initiatives and awareness programmes. It undertakes inspection of mines, investigation of all fatal accidents, grant of statutory permission, exemptions and relaxations in respect of various mining operation, approval of mines safety equipment, appliances and material, conduct examinations for grant of statutory competency certificate, safety promotional incentives including organization of national awards and national safety conference, etc.

DGFASLI is an attached office to the Ministry of Labour and relates to factories and ports/docks. It renders technical advice to the States/Union Territories in regard to administration and enforcement of the Factories Act. It also undertakes support research facilities and carries out promotional activities through education and training in matters concerning occupational safety and health.

Major Initiatives undertaken by DGFASLI during the Xth Five Year Plan are:-


The statutes relating to OH&S are broadly divided into three:-

  • Statutes for safety at workplaces

  • Statutes for safety of substances

  • Statutes for safety of activities

At present, safety and health statutes for regulating OH&S of persons at work exist only in four sectors:-

  • Mining

  • Factories

  • Ports

  • Construction

The major legislations 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 Kolkata, Chennai and Kanpur.

    (For details on this Act, refer to Sub-Section "Laws relating to Working Hours, Conditions of Service and Employment")

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.

    (For details on this Act, refer to Sub-Section "Laws relating to Working Hours, Conditions of Service and Employment")

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. Kolkata, 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.

Other legislations and the rules framed thereunder:-

National Safety Council of India (NSCI)

The National Safety Council of India (NSCI) was set up to promote safety consciousness among workers to prevent accidents, minimize dangers and mitigate human suffering, arrange programmes, lectures and conferences on safety, conduct educational campaigns to arouse consciousness among employers and workers and collect educational and information data, etc. It has launched new initiatives in three sectors:-

  • Road Transportation Safety

  • Safety of Health in Construction Sector

  • Safety, Health and Environment in Small and Medium Scale Enterprises(SMEs)

At the international level, NSCI has developed close collaboration with International Labour Organisation (ILO); United Nations Environment Programmes (UNEP); World Bank ; Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC),Bangkok; World Environment Centre (WEC), New York; and the member organizations of Asia Pacific Occupational Safety and Health Organisation (APOSHO) of which NSCI is a founder-member.

The National APELL (Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies at Local Level) Centre (NAC) has been established since April 2002 in the NSCI Headquarters under the MoU with the Division of Technology, Industry & Economics (DTIE) of UNEP, Paris. It is the first APELL Centre in the world. It has the technical support and information from UNEP and other international sources and the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India and the stakeholders. It is dedicated primarily to strengthen chemical emergency preparedness and response in India through the use of the internationally accepted APELL process.


Announcement of the National Policy On Safety, Health And Environment At Work Place was also a step towards improvement in safety, health and environment at workplace performance.

Objectives of the policy were:-

  • Continuous reduction in 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.


In order to encourage occupational health and safety, certain awards have also been instituted by the Government:-

  • The National Safety Awards for factories and docks, were instituted in 1965, to give recognition to good safety performance on the part of the industrial undertakings and to stimulate and maintain the interest of both management and workers in accident prevention programmes.

  • The National Safety Awards for mines were instituted in 1983, to give recognition to outstanding safety performances of mines of national-level which comes within the purview of the Mines Act, 1952.

  • The Shram Vir Awards, now known as Vishwakarma Rashtriya Puraskar were instituted in 1965. These are meant for workers of factories, mines, plantations and docks and are given to them in recognition of their meritorious performance, which leads to high productivity or economy or higher efficiency.

Indian Standard on OH&S management systems

Occupational Health and Safety demands adoption of a structured approach for the identification of hazards, their evaluation and control of risks in the organisation. Hence, 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 the requirements for an OH&S Management Systems, to enable an organization to formulate a policy, taking into account the legislative requirements. It also provides information about significant hazards and risks, which the organization can control in order to protect its employees and others, whose health and safety may be affected by the activities of the organization.

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.)

India and International Labour Organisation (ILO)

India is a founder member of International Labour Organization. The principal means of action in ILO is the setting up the 'International Labour Standards' in the form of Conventions and Recommendations. Conventions are international treaties and are the instruments which create legally binding obligations on the countries ratifying them. Recommendations are non-binding guidelines which orient national policies and actions. ILO has so far adopted 182 conventions and 190 recommendations, encompassing subjects such as worker's fundamental rights, worker's protection, social security, labour welfare, occupational safety and health, women and child labour, migrant labour, indigenous and tribal population, etc

The approach of India with regard to International Labour Standards has always been positive. India has accordingly evolved legislative and administrative measures for protection and advancement of the interests of labour in India. The practice followed by India so far has been that a Convention is ratified only when the national laws and practices are in conformity the provisions of the Convention in question. India has so far ratified 41 ILO Conventions. The unratified Conventions of the ILO are also reviewed at appropriate intervals in relation to our National laws and practices.

List of ILO Conventions ratified by India

Sl.No .

No. and Title of Convention

Date of ratification


No.1 Hours of Work (Industry) Convention, 1919



No.2 Unemployment Convention, 1919



No.4 Night Work (Women) Convention, 1919



No.5 Minimum Age (Industry) Convention, 1919



No.6 Night Work of Young Persons (Industry) Convention, 1919



No.11 Right of Association (Agriculture) Convention, 1921



No.14 Weekly Rest (Industry) Convention, 1921



No.15 Minimum Age (Trimmers and Stokers) Convention, 1921



No.16 Medical Examination of Young Persons (Sea) Convention, 1921



No.18 Workmen's Compensation (Occupational Diseases) Convention, 1925



No.19 Equality of Treatment (Accident Compensation) Convention, 1925



No.21 Inspection of Emigrants Convention, 1926



No.22 Seamen's Articles of Agreement Convention, 1926



No.26 Minimum Wage-Fixing Machinery, Convention, 1928



No.27 Marking of Weight (Packages Transported by Vessels) Convention, 1929



No.29 Forced Labour Convention, 1930



No.32 Protection Against Accidents (Dockers) Convention (Revised), 1932



No.41 Night Work (Women) Convention (Revised), 1934



No.42 Workmen's Compensation (Occupational Diseases) Convention (Revised), 1934



No.45 Underground Work (Women) Convention, 1935



No.80 Final Articles Revision Convention, 1946


22. **

No.81 Labour Inspection Convention, 1947



No.88 Employment Services Convention, 1948



No.89 Night Work (Women) Convention (Revised), 1948



No.90 Night Work of Young Persons (Industry) (Revised), 1948



No.100 Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951



No.107 Indigenous and Tribal Population Convention, 1957



No.111 Discrimination (Employment & Occupation) Convention, 1958



No.116 Final Articles Revision Convention, 1961



No.118 Equality of Treatment (Social Security) Convention, 1962



No.123 Minimum Age (Underground Work) Convention, 1965



No.115 Radiation Protection Convention, 1960



No.141 Rural Workers' Organisation Convention, 1975



No.144 Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Convention, 1976



No.136 Benzene Convention, 1971



No.160 Labour Statistics Convention, 1985



No.147 Merchant Shipping (Minimum Standards), 1976



No.122 Employment Policy Convention 1964



No.105 Abolition of Forced Labour, 1957



P89 Protocol of 1990 to the Night Work (Women) Convention (Revised), 1948


No.108 Seafarers' Identity Documents Convention, 1958


* Later denounced, The Convention requires, internal furnishing of statistics concerning unemployment every three months which is considered not practicable.

@ Convention denounced as a result of ratification of Convention No.89.

** Excluding Part II.

# Branches (c) and (g) and Branches (a) to (c) and (i).

@@   Minimum Age initially specified was 16 years but was raised to 18 years in 1989.

## Article 8 of Part - II.

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