Industrial sector in India is still one of the major labor-intensive sectors though it is said that the future belongs to automation. The Factories Act, 1948 was introduced to consolidate and distribute the powers within the factories for the benefit of the employers and employees, also known as workers and employees.
Factory has been defined under Section 2(m) of the Act as any premises that indulges into manufacturing process employing 10 or more workers with aid of power and 20 or more people without aid of power are working for a year. Mines and mobile units of armed forces, railway running shed or hotel and restaurants are excluded from the ambit of the definition.
Safety is construed Chapter IV (Section 21- Section 41) of the Act.
The provisions under the heading Safety deals with all the precautions that is to be taken while handling machinery. It states that all moving machinery that includes motors flywheels etc. should be properly fenced and necessary examinations must be done on regular basis. For the workers working and handling the moving machinery, the occupier of the factory must provide safety gear and should train them efficiently. No women should be allowed to clean, lubricate, or adjust these hazardous machineries at any cost. No young people, unless fully trained and is under supervision shall be allowed to work with the hazardous machineries.
In the machines involving driving belts, pulleys etc., the workmen must be provided with adequate gear and no one should be allowed to sit or rest on the belts and pulleys. There must be suitable devices to cut off power from engines immediately, in case emergency arises.
In case of self-acting machinery, 45 centimeters should be kept from the area where the workers might have to pass. All the new machinery having hazardous parts like nails, tooth, screws etc, have to be bought encased from the seller, an agent of the seller or hirer, failing to which the person responsible for hiring the seller shall be punished with a term of 3 months maximum and a fine of 500 rupees or both. Cotton openers shall not be used by women and children at any cost.
Equipment like hoists, lifts, chains, ropes and lifting tackles have to be bought by the authorized dealers and all the parts should be genuine. All the enclosures shall have safety measures as explained in the provisions. It is the duty of the Chief Inspector to inspect and give a report to the authorities on a regular basis. No excessive weights should be allowed to be carried in it at any cost.
Revolving machineries must be adequately labelled by mentioning the maximum speed limits and other necessary information. Pressure plants must have adequate resources to balance out with the atmospheric pressure. Most importantly, the stairs, floors and means of access must be adequately marked and kept free of obstructions. They have to be easily accessible at times of emergency and otherwise hence the planning and positioning have to be done priorly. All the pits, pump openings and site openings should have signboards in front denoting its location, depth, and other crucial information.
All the workers should be having gears that protect their eyes from flying particles and any other risk of injuries. In mines and underground working systems, provisions must be made to protect the workers from the dangerous fumes and gases. It is the responsibility of the occupier to look into the matter that they have been provided with apparatus like breathing gears and it should not be of a faulty or cheap grade.
In cases of fire, all the escape route plans must be priorly told to the workers and all means of escape should be kept open. They also must be trained priorly to operate fire extinguishing devices. All the additional necessities must be taken note of by the Chief Inspector and arrangements must be made in accordance with it.
Safety officers are defining under Section 40(b) of the Act. They must be appointed where there are more than 1000 workers employed and on further discretions and necessities of the State Government. It is their duty to advise on various safety related issues and conduct risk assessment at regular basis. It is their primary duties to overlook the working in the factories and if they find something unsatisfactory it is their duty to report it to the authorities and ask them for the provisions.
All the sections have the sub-clause that state governments have the power to make amendments and add necessary provisions to protect the workers. All the above stated provisions are deemed to be for the safety of the workers and according to me, they must be stringently followed by all the factories. If they do not comply or there is any negligence spotted, then they must be heavily penalized in accordance with the law.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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