Skip to main content

'Recognize polyacrylate and musculoskeletal, prevalent in chemical and auto units, as occupational diseases'

A polyacrylate victim
By Our Representative
In a sharp demand, the People’s Research and Training Centre (PTRC), the Vadodara-based NGO working on occupational health issues, wants the Government of India and Government of Gujarat to come up with an amendment in schedule III of the Employees’ Compensation Act, in order to include polyacrylate and musculoskeletal in the list of occupational diseases. In separate letters to the Gujarat labour minister and director-general, ESI Corporation, Jagdish Patel, who heads PTRC, has said that while polyacrylate is a serious lung disease rampant among Gujarat’s pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry, musculoskeletal is a debilitating injury to millions of workers in a wide cross-section of occupations, against which workers of a state-based car manufacturing company represented before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
In a statement issued in the wake of the demand, the PTRC said, “Nearly 13 lakh workers work in more than 33,000 industrial units operating in Gujarat. Then, there are a large number of unorganized workers, who work in different types of hazardous jobs, including physically lifting weight, maintenance repair, mining, running heavy machinery, and so on. Hazardous jobs galore even in service industry, including in hotels, restaurants and hospitals. Work in these units leads to different types of diseases which come under musculoskeletal, in which tissues are damaged with the wear and tear of daily activities.”
He recalls, “In March 2011, General Motors workers went on strike and their main complaint was they suffered from back pain. They complained to the NHRC for this. In UK, 11 lakh workers suffer from musculoskeletal every year. In the US, such patients form 40 per cent of the workers, or around five lakh. In India, too, this is a common form of disease. In the 2010 International Labour Organisation (ILO) list, it finds its place as an occupational disease.”
Coming to polyacrylate, Patel underlines, “last year, in Mehsana district’s Kadi town, several chemical units exposed workers with polyacrylic acid, leading to serious lung diseases. Among those who died as a result included Alka Thakore, Nainaben Mistry, Nilam Rathod, Vipul Darji and Bhavesh Patel. Gujarat High Court suo motu took notice of it, and the units had to make necessary technology changes.” However, he regrets, “As polyacrylate is not in the list of occupational diseases, the workers failed to get any compensation.”
Patel says, he had earlier written to the state labour minister and the director-general, ESI Corporation, about this, yet there is “no response”. “Decent work – work with dignity and safety is being promoted by the International Labor Organization. Safer and healthier workplace is one of the important human rights for working population. The Indian state is striving to provide legal protection for safety and health for millions of workers. Still we have not been able to provide legal protection for protection of health and safety at work for millions of workers in organized and unorganized sectors”, the statement adds.
Pointing out that “millions of workers either die or get disabled in accidents or occupational disease each year even as they contribute to the GDP of our country”, Patel says, “We badly need to review labour laws… The Employees Compensation Act is one important piece of law to offer social justice for injury, disability or death occurring as a result of accidental injury occurring in course and out of employment.”
He adds, “Chemicals are important part of modern industry. Thousands of chemicals are handled by workers at work. Chemicals pollute the workplace exposing the workers to the hazards. Over a period time, depending up on the toxicity, concentration and period of exposure, exposed workers get affected. Schedule III of The Employees Compensation Act lists the diseases for which compensation can be claimed. Section 3 of the Act empowers the state governments to amend the list.”
Asking the state government the director-general, ESI Corporation to “consider the representation and initiate steps to amend the schedule”, Patel says, “The best way to amend the list is to accept ILO list of occupational diseases amended in 2010, instead of going in for piecemeal changes. If this cannot be done, at least these two diseases should be included in the list urgently. The Government of India has passed policy for Occupational Safety and Health and the government has responsibility to enforce the same. By amending, ESIC will offer one more avenue for social justice to the millions of suffering workers.”

Comments

TRENDING

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

Indians witnessing 'regression to Hindutva politics' under Modi ahead of elections

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The forthcoming general election in India, scheduled from April 19, 2024, to June 1, 2024, to elect the 543 members of the 18th Lok Sabha and the new Government of India, carries immense significance for the preservation of India's identity as a liberal, secular, and constitutional democracy.

An equine landmark, Cheltenham Gold Cup centenary 'epitomized' heights unparalleled

By Harsh Thakor*  The Cheltenham Gold Cup  is the most prestigious jumping race in the British Isles Steeplechasing calendar and the Cheltenham festival, a cynosure of every English and Irish racegoer. Few sporting events match or surpass the sheer intensity, competitiveness and joy that radiates its legacy. Few moments are more pulsating than witnessing a Gold Cup or a Cheltenham festival. In addition to that the race is run amidst the background of an evergreen English countryside, encircled by hills and pastures, giving a sensation of a paradise or heavenly location.