Skip to main content

Study finds major lapses in implementing safety norms in factories in the Ahmedabad region

Counterview Desk
A recent study, titled, “Health, Safety and Welfare of Industrial Workers in Ahmedabad”, in the and around industrial areas of the city – Naroda, Asarwa, Narol, Ramol, Vatva, Dholka, Bavla, Kharaj and Kalol – has found that 67 per cent of factories do not have any safety committees, which are mandatory as an internal arrangement and whose main job is hazard identification, accident investigation, record keeping and evaluation. These committees are meant to examine safety and health issues, and recommend policies; conduct periodic workplace inspections; and evaluate and promote interest in the safety programme, particularly education and training.
Carried out by Kamdar Swasthya Suraksha Mandal (KSSM), an Ahmedabad-based NGO, which works on workers’ occupational health and safety, the study also found that about 67 per cent factories’ machineries are in a situation where accidents may occur. Nearly 56 per cent of factories dispose of their effluents and wastes efficiently, while others do not. And regular medical checkup of workers is carried out only in 17 per cent of the factories.
The study, which is based on spot survey by visiting factories, found that in the engineering units, where cutting and welding work is done, defective protection mask is provided to welders and fitters, and there is a serious risk to the eyes and the face due to welding sparks. Based on visits to the factories, the study regrets, “Safety equipments are provided only during inspections alone. In some cotton factories, it was observed that cotton dust was spread everywhere — like on extinguishers and sockets of light. High level of noise was also found in some of the departments of cotton factories. In these departments, either earplugs were not provided or workers did not wear even though they were provided. Safety masks were given to workers, but due to itching on face, the workers did not wear them.”
The study says, “The safety committee in some factories, where they existed, did not function well because of management influence and prevalence of lack of education among the workers. This led to stress and fatigue among the workers. Personal protection equipments like earplugs, earmuffs and gum boots etc. were provided at few places. The noise level was very high at many factories.”
While pointing out that workers have to work for long hours and their wages are low, the study regrets, “Workers neglect safety steps until they don’t face any major problem or disability. They lack safety training, which is the responsibility of the management.” It adds, “The temperature was found to be very high in many factories. There was a time when ice plates were arranged to reduce temperatures. But such arrangements are not found for quite some time.”
Coming to the welfare facilities provided by the factories, the study found that the chawls provided by the employers are in poor condition. In fact, toilets were found to be in bad condition, and only one toilet was working properly out of five. It was also found that “roofs of houses were in risky condition.” Water made available in the chawls was polluted. “After some time, the color of water would become yellow in some areas”, the study said, adding, “The arrangement for drainage was poor. Drainages were at most places blocked due to waste and garbage.”
The study found that “specific persons looking after safety in order to ensure healthy working conditions are never appointed.” In fact, “an officer from the maintenance department or the production department looks after safety measures, despite the fact that they do not having any in-depth knowledge of health and safety measures and probable hazards. There is an urgent need to appoint a technical and knowledgeable expert for the safety of workers.”
The study says, “Regular monitoring and administration of working conditions was found missing. In the current scenario, as the supply of labour is low, high wages along with other facilities should be given to workers. Yet, workers live in stressful conditions. In fact, workers working in textile mills, especially in blow room and card room of the respected mills, suffered from the lung disease — bysinosis. Yet, workers were not aware of it.”
The study further says, “The Employees’ State Insurance Scheme (ESIS) and the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) have sufficient provisions regarding medical insurance and compensation. But workers do not have not full knowledge of it. Hence, sometimes they go to private hospitals even though they are covered under Employees State Insurance (ESI) Act, 1948.“
Pointing towards urgent need to make workers aware of ESIS and ESIC and the laws that govern the workers’ safety in factories, the study underlines, “There is a also the need to give safety training to workers so that they know what are probable diseases or hazards.” Additionally, “by creating a safety committee, representatives of workers and management can be trained for different measures of safety and health.”
The study underlines, “The number of industrial of physicians is limited. Industrial physicians are specialized persons who have of in-depth knowledge of occupational health. The safety committees, therefore, should take action in this direction. Then, there is always the need to have a collaborative action between ESIC, ESIS, management, and the NGO for spreading awareness about the issue.” It adds, “Nowadays, managements do make arrangement to cover workers under ESIS and ESIC. It is a positive sign. But ESI hospitals are far from the place of stay of workers. This should be taken care by the ESI.”
The study recalls recommendations of the second National Commission on Labour to say that there should be a “composite law for smaller establishments employing 19 or less workers, providing for safety, health and welfare, hours of work, payment of wages etc.” The commission also wanted that “the scheme of workers’ participation in management should be made compulsory for all establishments with more than 300 workers”, adding, “Under this system joint management councils should be constituted at the plant level.”
The study says, as per the provisions of Section 41 and 41-G of the Factories Act, 1948, all factories with more than 250 workers should carry out periodical medical examination of persons employed. It also prohibits into employment persons not certified as fit. As for the units covered under Section 2(cb) of the Factories Act, 1948 and employing more than 50 workers, where raw materials or the intermediate or finished products, byproducts, wastes or effluents thereof would cause material impairment to the health of the persons engaged in or connected therewith, three major functions for the safety committee are recommended: (1) Examine safety and health issues and recommend policies. (2) Conduct periodic workplace inspections. And (3) Evaluate and promote interest in the safety programme via education and training.
In fact, the study says, the factories committees are obliged to carry out hazard identification, accident investigation, record keeping and evaluation. There should be joint management councils at the plant level, which should discuss various matters relating to the working of the industry. Their task administering welfare measures, supervision of safety and health schemes, scheduling of working hours, rewards for suggestions etc. They should “take up issues related to accident prevention, management of canteens, water, meals, revision of work rules, absenteeism, indiscipline etc.”, the study suggests.
In conclusion, the study says, “In India manpower is the most important resource of production and prosperity. Workers are a major part of this manpower. Past experience of the labour movement shows that there is a burning need to protect and evaluate them as a prosperous resource. Good health and safety are inevitable elements of working people. So, there is a need to remove the danger or unsafe conditions. Only instructions or posters of safety are not sufficient. If dangerous or unsafe conditions can’t be removed completely, risky elements should be isolated.” And if these cannot be stopped, the workers must be provided with “personal protective equipments (earplugs, helmets, gum boots, goggles etc.).”

Comments

TRENDING

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

Congress 'promises' cancellation of Adani power project: Jharkhand elections

Counterview Desk
Pointing out that people's issues take a backseat in Jharkhand's 2019 assembly elections, the state's civil rights organization, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, has said that political parties have largely ignored in their electoral manifestos the need to implement the fifth schedule of the Constitution in a predominantly tribal district.

Banned? Indian ports 'received' 38 US plastic waste containers reexported from Indonesia

By Rajiv Shah
An Indonesia-based international environmental watchdog group has dug out what it has called “a global pollution shell game”, stating how officials in Indonesia approved re-exports of “illegal” US waste shipments containing plastics mainly to India, as also to other Asian countries -- Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam -- instead of returning them to the US “as promised.”

With RSS around, does India need foreign enemy to undo its democratic-secular fabric?

By Shamsul Islam*
Many well-meaning liberal and secular political analysts are highly perturbed by sectarian policy decisions of RSS/BJP rulers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially after starting his second inning. They are vocal in red-flagging lynching incidents, policies of the Modi government on Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the demand for 'Bharat Ratna' to Savarkar who submitted 6-7 mercy petitions to the British masters (getting remission of 40 years out of 50 years' sentence), and the murder of constitutional norms in Goa, Karnataka and now in Maharashtra.

Ex-World Bank chief economist doubts spurt in India's ease of doing business rank

By Rajiv Shah
This is in continuation of my previous blog where I had quoted from a commentary which top economist Prof Kaushik Basu had written in the New York Times (NYT) a little less than a month ago, on November 6, to be exact. He recalled this article through a tweet on November 29, soon after it was made known that India's growth rate had slumped (officially!) to 4.5%.

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Worrying signs in BJP: Modi, Shah begin 'cold-shouldering' Gujarat CM, party chief

By RK Misra*
The political developments in neighbouring Maharashtra where a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government assumed office has had a trickle down effect in Gujarat with both the ruling BJP and the Congress opposition going into revamp mode.

Church in India 'seems to have lost' moral compass of unequivocal support to the poor

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
In 2017, Pope Francis dedicated a special day, to be observed by the Universal Church, every year, as the ‘World Day of the Poor’. This year it will be observed on November 17 on the theme ‘The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever’; in a message for the day Pope Francis says:

'Discussed' with Modi, Gujarat Rann Sarovar proposal for Kutch runs into rough weather

By Rajiv Shah
Top Saurashtra industrialist Jaysukhbhai Patel’s by now controversial proposal to convert the 4,900 sq km Little Rann of Kutch area, an eco-sensitive zone – a UNESCO biosphere, world’s only wild ass reserve, and a nesting ground of lesser flamingoes – into a huge sweet water lake, called Rann Sarovar, has suffered a major roadblock. At least three Central agencies have expressed serious doubts about its feasibility.