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Occupational Safety And Welfare Of Workers And Their Working Conditions

The Occupational Safety, Welfare and Conditions of the workers are a major concern in our country, due to failures of these areas, the conditions are the workers are worsened day-by-day. In order to tackle these problems, the Indian Government introduced "The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020" which was the best initiative to resolve the safety, health, and working condition of the workers.

Occupational safety, welfare and conditions of the workers is a discipline with broad and wide scope, involving many specialized and specified fields and areas:
  • The promotion and maintenance of highest degree of degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations;
  • The prevention among workers of adverse effects on health caused by their working conditions;
  • The protection of workers in their employment from risks resulting from factors adverse to health;
  • The placing and maintenance of workers in an occupational environment adapted to physical and mental needs;
  • The adaptation of work to humans.

In other words, or sense "occupational safety, welfare and working conditions of the workers are the social, mental, physical well-being of the workers.

These services are intended to safeguard and enhance workers' health and enhance working conditions, and they ought to be available to workers across all economic sectors. It is imperative to provide workers who suffer from work-related illnesses, accidents, or injuries with medical care, rehabilitation, and compensation.

Poor working condition affect worker's safety, health and working condition:
  • The health and safety of employees may be impacted by subpar working conditions of any kind.
    • Poor or dangerous working conditions can occur anywhere, whether an office is indoors or outside. They are not just present in factories. Many workers' jobs are "outdoors," which can provide several health and safety risks. Examples of these occupations include miners and farmers.
    • Since many workers live and work in the same places, poor working conditions can also have an impact on the living situations of employees. Accordingly, occupational risks may have negative consequences not just for the physical surroundings of the workplace but also for employees, their families, and other members of the community.

Why is Occupational Safety important?
Due to the fact that most workers spend at least eight hours a day at work�whether it be in an office, factory, or on a plantation�work plays a major role in people's life. As a result, workplaces ought to be healthy and safe.

For many workers, however, this is not the case.

Worldwide labourer's encounter numerous health risks on a daily basis, including:
  • Severe temperatures,
  • Dusts,
  • Fumes,
  • Noise, and
  • Vibrations.
  • Poor infrastructure, management, etc.

Sadly, some firms don't take much ownership of safeguarding the health and safety of their employees. To be honest, there are employers that are unaware of their moral and even legal obligation to provide protection for their employees.

Extent of the problem worldwide:
  • Over the previous 20 to 30 years, occupational health and safety have generally improved in the majority of industrialized countries.
  • However, due in large part to insufficient accident and disease recognition, record-keeping, and reporting processes, the situation in poor nations is not entirely clear.
  • Worldwide, there are thought to be at least 250 million work-related accidents annually. Of these incidents, 335,000 are deadly (cause death).
  • (It can be presumed that the actual numbers are far greater than this because many nations lack reliable record-keeping and reporting systems.)
  • Compared to industrialized nations, the number of fatal accidents in developing nations is significantly higher.
  • Compared to industrialized nations, developing nations experience a significantly greater rate of fatal accidents. This discrepancy is mostly attributable to enhanced health and safety initiatives, better first-aid and medical facilities in developed nations, and active worker participation in the process of making decisions pertaining to health and safety.
  • Mining, agriculture, including forestry and logging, and construction are some of the industries with the highest risk of accidents globally.

Identifying the cause of problem:
Sometimes it's simple to determine what caused an occupational injury. But frequently, the accident that caused the damage was preceded by an unnoticed series of events. For instance, supplier misinformation regarding a product, inadequate worker training provided by the employer, and other forms of negligence frequently result in mishaps. The necessity for prevention-focused occupational health and safety education programs is highlighted by the persistently high fatal accident rates in emerging nations. Encouraging the growth of occupational health services is equally crucial, as is educating medical professionals to identify work-related illnesses early on.

Many years have passed since the recognition of certain occupational disorders, which impact workers differently based on the type of danger, the exposure route, the dosage, etc. Several well-known occupational illnesses consist of:
  • The diseases asbestosis (caused by asbestos, which is frequently found in insulation and car brake linings),
  • Silica (caused by silica, which is frequently found in mining and sandblasting), and
  • Lead poisoning (induced by lead, which is frequently found in battery plants, paint factories, etc.);
  • As well as hearing loss brought on by noise (which occurs when loud machinery like drills and presses is utilized in a workplace, as well as in many airports).
Inadequate working conditions can also lead to a host of other potentially fatal health issues, such as:
  • heart disease,
  • musculoskeletal conditions such chronic back pain or muscular disorders,
  • allergies,
  • issues with reproduction, and
  • illnesses linked to stress.
The amount of people afflicted with diseases related to their jobs is surprisingly low in many developing nations. For several reasons, these figures appear low.

These include:
  • The absence of occupational health facilities,
  • Insufficient or nonexistent reporting systems, and
  • A shortage of medical professionals qualified to identify work-related illnesses.
It is reasonable to believe that the actual number of employees suffering from occupational diseases is far higher for these and other reasons. In actuality, both in developing and developed nations, the total number of cases and varieties of occupational diseases is rising, not falling.

Identifying the cause of occupational diseases:
The cause of occupational diseases is often difficult to determine. One factor is the latency period (the fact that an illness can take years to clearly affect a worker's health). Once an illness is identified, it may be too late to take action or to investigate what hazards the worker has been exposed to in the past.

Other factors, such as changes in workplace or personal behaviour (such as smoking or drinking alcohol), further complicate the association of occupational exposures with disease outcomes.

Although some occupational hazards are now better understood than in the past, new chemicals and new technologies are introduced every year that present new and often unknown hazards to workers and the community alike.

These new and unknown threats present great challenges to workers, employers, educators and researchers, i.e. anyone who cares about the health of workers and the environmental effects of hazardous substances.
  • The Range of Hazards:
    Almost all jobs have an unlimited number of hazards. There are obvious hazardous working conditions such as unguarded machinery, slippery floors, or inadequate fire protection measures, but there are also several categories of insidious hazards (i.e., hazards that are dangerous but not necessarily obvious) including:
    • liquids, solids, dust, vapours, chemical hazards from vapours and gases;
    • physical hazards such as noise,
    • vibration,
    • unsatisfactory lighting, radiation, and extreme temperatures;
    • Biological hazards such as bacteria, viruses, infectious waste, and infections;
    • psychological hazards of stress and tension;
    • ergonomic hazards associated with non-compliance, such as poorly designed machines, mechanical equipment, and tools used by workers, inappropriate design of seats and workstations, or poorly designed work practices.
Workers do not create hazards - in many cases, hazards are built into the workplace. The union's position on occupational health and safety is to ensure the improvement of occupational safety by changing the workplace and potentially dangerous work processes. This means that the solution is to eliminate hazards, not to try to get workers to adapt to hazardous conditions. Requiring workers to wear protective clothing that may not be suitable or designed for the climate in your area is an example of forcing workers to adapt to hazardous conditions, which also shifts responsibility from management to the worker. It is important for unions to maintain this position because many employers blame the workers when an accident occurs and claim that the workers were negligent. This attitude means that work can be made safer if workers change their behaviour or if employers hire only workers who never make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes - it's human nature, but employees shouldn't have to pay for mistakes with their lives. Accidents do not stop simply by making the safety awareness of workers. Safety awareness can help, but it does not eliminate unsafe work processes or conditions. The most effective prevention of accidents and illnesses begins when work processes are still in the planning phase, when safe conditions can be built into the work process.
  • Importance of Management Committee:
    1. Developing a successful occupational health and safety program requires strong management commitment and strong employee participation in creating and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace.
    2. Effective management covers all occupational hazards, not just those covered by government standards.
    3. All levels of management must prioritize health and safety. They must report this by going to the workplace to talk to workers about their concerns and observe work methods and equipment.
    4. In any workplace, responsibilities must be clear from top to bottom, and employees must know who is responsible for various health and safety issues.
    5. Health and safety must be given top attention at all management levels. They have to do this by entering the workplace, talking to employees about their issues, and keeping an eye on the tools and processes used there.
    6. The chains of command in any workplace must be clearly defined, and employees must be aware of who is in charge of various health and safety-related matters.
  • Importance of Training:
    1. Especially in the early phases of an occupational disease, workers frequently experience health issues related to their jobs without realizing it is their job.
    2. A thorough training programme in any workplace will assist employees in the following, in addition to the other, more evident advantages of training, such as skill development and hazard recognition:
      • Identify any early warning signs or symptoms of possible occupational diseases before they materialize into permanent conditions;
      • Evaluate the workplace; and
      • Demand that management make adjustments before dangerous situations arise.

Role of the Health and Safety Representative:

In your capacity as a health and safety representative, it is your responsibility to take proactive measures to shield employees from workplace dangers�that is, to act before they become an issue. Making sure that hazards are either eliminated by management or kept under control when they can't be eliminated is one way to do this.

To assist you in accomplishing your objectives, consider the following:

  • Know everything there is to know about the different risks that you may encounter at work and how to mitigate them.
  • To detect and control hazards, collaborate with the employer and your union.
  • While these Modules have been designed with worker safety in mind, you might occasionally need to discuss some of this information with your employer and supervisors as part of your efforts to create a safe and healthy work environment.

The Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Condition, 2020

An initiative towards resolving certain issues faced by workers in India:

Highlights of the Bill:

  • In India, labour is covered by the Constitution's Concurrent List. Thus, legislation governing labour can be passed by both the federal government and state legislatures.
  • There are currently approximately 100 state and 40 federal laws governing many facets of labour, including pay, social security, working conditions, and the settlement of labour disputes.
  • The Second National Commission on Labour (2002) concluded that the current legal system was convoluted, with out-of-date laws and ambiguous definitions.
  • The National Commission proposed that existing labour laws be unified into broader areas such as
    • industrial relations,
    • wages,
    • social security,
    • safety, and
    • welfare and working conditions
    in order to increase ease of compliance and maintain uniformity in labour laws.

Key Features of the Code:

  • Thirteen Acts that govern health, safety, and working conditions are combined into one code. Workers in factories, mines, docks, building and construction, plantation labour, contract workforce, interstate migrant labour, working journalists, vehicle transport workers, sales promotion personnel, and movie theatre employees are all covered by these regulations.
  • The principal clauses of the Code and the Acts' provisions are contrasted in the Annexure to this Brief.
  • Coverage Licenses and Registration:
    • Coverage, the Code covers all mines and docks, as well as businesses with ten or more employees. Apprentices are exempt from this. Additionally, all employees are subject to the Code's regulations for health and working conditions.
    • Licence and registration, businesses subject to the Code must register with registering officers�appointed by the federal or state governments-within sixty days of the Code's implementation.
    • Moreover, some businesses, such factories and mines, as well as those that employ people like beedi and cigar workers, might need to have extra licences to function.
  • Rights and Duties of Employee and Employer:
    • Employers have obligations that include creating a safe working environment, offering free yearly physicals to workers in notified establishments, sending appointment letters to workers, and notifying authorities in case of accidents resulting in death or serious injury.
    • Employees have responsibilities to look out for their own health and well-being, adhere to safety regulations, and notify inspectors of harmful work conditions.
  • Work Hours and Leave:
    • Hours of work, the federal or state governments will notify workers and various establishment classes about their respective work schedules. The employee is entitled to double their daily pay for overtime work.
    • Working Conditions and Welfare Facilities:
      • Conditions of work, the federal government will notify the workers. Toilets, clean drinking water, and a healthy work atmosphere are examples of conditions.
      • Welfare facilities, according to guidelines issued by the federal government, may include canteens, first aid kits, and cr�ches. Additional facilities may be specified for certain industries.
  • Relevant Authorities:
    • Inspectors and facilitators are responsible for performing inspections and conducting accident investigations. They may also limit the number of employees in certain areas and forbid employment in hazardous conditions.
    • Advisory Bodies will be established at national and state levels to provide guidance on norms, guidelines, and policies under the Code.
    • Safety Committees may be mandated for specific classes of workers and facilities, serving as intermediaries between employers and workers.
  • Offences and Penalties:
    • Several offences are included in the Code. A crime that results in an employee's death may be punished with a fine of up to five lakh rupees, two years in prison, or both.
    • In addition, the victim's heirs may be awarded a minimum of 50% of the fine, under court orders. The employer faces a fine of two to three lakh rupees for any other infraction for which the penalty is not mentioned.
An employer may fine an employee up to Rs 10,000 for breaking any of the Code's rules. Up to 50% of the maximum fine can be negotiated for first-time offences that are not subject to jail time.

  • There are several risks that employees in all professions may encounter at work. The wide variety of workplace dangers, from preventing accidents to more subtle ones like toxic vapours, dust, noise, heat, stress, etc., are all covered by occupational health and safety.
  • Rather than trying to remedy issues after they have arisen, occupational health and safety programmes should aim to prevent work-related illnesses and accidents.
  • Workplace hazards can take many different forms, such as chemical, physical, biological, psychological, and failure to apply ergonomic principles.
  • Workplace illnesses and accidents continue to be major issues everywhere in the world due to the abundance of risks in most jobs and the general disregard for health and safety by many employers.
  • Consequently, trade unions need to demand that employers eliminate risks at their source rather than making employees adjust to dangerous circumstances.
  • Two crucial components of any effective workplace health and safety programme are management commitment to health and safety and robust worker participation.
  • Work processes should be designed with the goal of preventing accidents and diseases as much as possible.

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