Skip to main content

India's health workers have no legal right for their protection, regrets NGO network

Counterview Desk
In a letter to Union labour and employment minister Santosh Gangwar, the civil rights group Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India (OEHNI), writing against the backdrop of strike by Bhabha hospital heath care workers, has insisted that they should be given “clear legal right for their protection”.
Pointing out that hospital workers went on strike “for their demand for personal protective equipment (PPE), the letter, signed by OEHNI national coordinator Jagdish Patel, regrets, even 73 years after independence, India does not have any “legal provision to notify the accidents” not is there any authority “appointed to monitor accidents in the health care facilities.”
The letter has been endorsed (click here for list) by 90 health rights activists, physicians and experts.

Text:

We all are under lockdown due to CORONO crisis that has given us an opportunity to think of the progress we are making. You must be aware that Bhabha hospital workers in Mumbai have gone on strike for their demand of PPE. Newspaper pages and news rooms of TV channels are busy discussing the problem of supply of PPE to the health care workers all over in India.
Never before in the long history of labour movement in India have we heard of strike for PPE by health care workers. COVID-19 has drawn our attention to the very important aspect of protection of safety and health of health care workers.
As we all know, it is only on humanitarian, moral and ethical grounds that the employers in India are required to supply PPEs to the health care workers. It is yet not a legal binding. We have the Clinical Establishment Act (Registration & Regulation) Act, 2010 and hospital standards have been developed. In this Act or the standards there is no clear provision to provide PPEs to the health care workers for their protection of safety and health at work.
Under the HIV AIDS Act of 2017 Universal Precautions (which includes PPE by definition) have been mandated but there is no method of implementation or monitoring and very little information about this to the neither currently employed health staff nor training to those now being hired. In fact all persons handling body fluids are exposed to HIV.
Now, after 73 years of independence health care workers should be given clear legal right for their protection.
In any big hospital you have several departments and each has their own specific hazards. The doctors and nurses get needle stick injuries. Among healthcare workers and laboratory personnel worldwide, more than 25 blood-borne virus infections have been reported to have been caused by needle stick injuries.
You need to have laundry in the hospital where the workers handle the soiled clothes, bed sheets and other material to be washed. In each hospital you find at least one canteen where they cook and serve food and the workers there need to be protected from accidents. In each hospital you find maintenance department which includes electricians who need to be protected from electrical hazards.
In each hospital you find radiology department where workers are exposed to radiations and they need to be protected. Each hospital has a laboratory to test various samples. Samples are tested using different chemicals and the workers and technicians need to be protected from the exposure
to these chemicals. There are post-mortem and morgue workers and they are exposed to bio and other hazards.
We have received complaint from anesthesiologist from Mumbai, working in a children’s hospital that he was exposed to anesthetic gases for a long time and the gases adversely affected his health and had to be on treatment and leaves and then left the job. It was case of faulty ventilation in operation theater. And this is not a comprehensive list.
In 2009 Govt of India declared National Policy for Safety, Health and Environment at Work. But nothing happened thereafter
Apart from infections, we hear of fires in hospitals but we do not have any official data available on fires in the hospitals. Data help us frame policy and design strategies for prevention. Again accidents other than fires also take place and that may leave the victim injured and injury may be temporary or permanent and total or partial.
We again do not know the incidence or proportion because there is no legal provision to notify the accidents and there is no authority appointed to monitor accidents in the health care facilities. I believe that such a provision in Factory Act and Mines Act has helped to reduce accidents in factories as well as mines respectively.
In 2009 Government of India declared a National Policy for Safety, Health and Environment at Work. This policy gave lots of hopes that workers in all economic sectors shall be protected now but nothing has happened. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is encouraging its member states to ratify C.155 and this policy is first step in that direction. We now need to take second bold step in this direction and ratify ILO C.155 of 1981.
The second labour commission appointed by the NDA Government under AB Vajpayee recommended enacting separate Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act to give legal protection to the workers in all economic sectors. Now your Government has put up OHS code in Parliament which is pending. Unfortunately, even after this bill is passed, the health care workers shall not get a right to be protected at work. How long they will have to wait?
This is right opportunity and social environment is conducive for passage of such law in larger interest of workers. It will be real shradhdhanjali (homage) to Vajpayee ji.
---
Click here for signatories

Comments

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Cyrus Mistry, PM Modi’s brother: What do these accidents have in common? Merc!

By Rosamma Thomas*  In September 2022, in an accident at Palghar near Mumbai, Cyrus Mistry, former chairman of the Tata Group, died in a road accident . On December 28, 2022, a road accident in Mysore left one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brothers injured. What is common in these accidents? The car that crashed into the divider on the road, in both these cases, was manufactured by “prestigious” German manufacturer Mercedes Benz. One former dealer of Mercedes Benz cars in India has been raising issues of the threat to the lives of those riding these cars for many years now. Cama Motors, among the oldest dealers of foreign cars, having started business in pre-independence India, noted over 10 years ago that Mercedes Benz was indulging in corrupt practices . The cars are currently priced between Rs 41 lakh and Rs 2.92 crore in India; few people realize that the pride of owning a Merc comes at considerable risk to life. Cama Motors carefully documented several of the flaws on a websi

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen