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M.phil research scholar


Occupational health should aim at the promotion and maintenance of highest degree of
physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations; the prevention among
workers of departures from 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 the worker in an occupational environment adapted to his physiological
and psychological equipment and to summarize, the adaptation of work to man and of each
man to his job. It is important to scrutinize the existing occupational health and safety
provisions in Indian law and their implementation. This article argues about Occupational
health and safety in India, its need and various occupational diseases and suggestions to
improve OSH reforms.


Promotion of worker health and safety is the goal of occupational health and safety programs.
These programs are offered primarily by the employer at the work place, but the range of
services and the models for delivering them have been changing dramatically over the past
few years. The rapid industrial growth is in conjunction with a population shift from rural to
urban areas that has severely strained urban infrastructure. The rise of India as a
manufacturing hub with a significant increase in industrial employment will have
implications for occupational health that have not been considered with any degree of
seriousness. Under new administration of the Occupational Safety and Health Act ,increased
public concern about worker health and safety, companies that do not meet minimal
occupational health and safety standards will charge Criminal case against business owners
when preventable work-related death occurred.


The occupation and safety act became a public law in 1970.The major purpose of OSHA is to
assure safe and healthy working conditions. Occupational safety and health is an extensive
multidisciplinary field, invariably touching on issues related to scientific areas such as
medicine – including physiology and toxicology – ergonomics, physics and chemistry, as
well as technology, economics, law and other areas specific to various industries and
activities. Despite this variety of concerns and interests, certain basic principles can be
identified, including the following:
• All workers have rights. Workers, as well as employers and governments, must ensure that
these rights are protected and must strive to establish and maintain decent working conditions
and a decent working environment.
• Occupational safety and health policies must be established. Such policies must be
implemented at both the national (governmental) and enterprise levels. They must be
effectively communicated to all parties concerned.

• A national system for occupational safety and health must be established. Such a system
must include all the mechanisms and elements necessary to build and maintain a preventive
safety and health culture. The national system must be maintained, progressively developed
and periodically reviewed.

• A national programme on occupational safety and health must be formulated. Once

formulated, it must be implemented, monitored, evaluated and periodically reviewed.
• Social partners (that is, employers and workers) and other stakeholders must be consulted.
This should be done during formulation, implementation and review of all policies, systems
and programmes.

• Occupational safety and health programmes and policies must aim at both prevention and
protection. Efforts must be focused above all on primary prevention at the workplace level.
Workplaces and working environments should be planned and designed to be safe and

•it is necessary to ensure that national laws, regulations and technical standards to prevent
occupational injuries, diseases and deaths are adapted periodically to social, technical and
scientific progress and other changes in the world of work..

• The collection and dissemination of accurate information on hazards and hazardous

materials, surveillance of workplaces, monitoring of compliance with policies and good
practice, and other related activities are central to the establishment and enforcement of
effective policies.
• Health promotion is a central element of occupational health practice. Efforts must be made
to enhance workers’ physical, mental and social well-being.

• Compensation, rehabilitation and curative services must be made available to workers who
suffer occupational injuries, accidents and work related diseases. Action must be taken to
minimize the consequences of occupational hazards.

• Education and training are vital components of safe, healthy working environments.
Workers and employers must be made aware of the importance of establishing safe working
procedures and of how to do so.

• Workers, employers and competent authorities have certain responsibilities, duties and

Safety and health occupy a significant place in India's Constitution, which prohibits
employment of children under the age of 14 in factories, mines and hazardous occupations.
This policy aims to protect the health and strength of all workers by discouraging
employment in occupations unsuitable to the worker's age and strength. It is the policy of the
State to make provisions to secure just and human conditions at work. The Constitution
provides a broad framework under which policies and programmes for occupational health
and safety can be established. The Act is implemented by state factory inspectorates,
supported by industrial hygiene laboratories.


 Factories Act, 1948, amended in 1954, 1970, 1976, 1987,

 Mines Act, 1952

 Dock Workers (Safety, Health and Welfare) Act, 1986

 Plantation Labor Act, 1951

 Explosives Act, 1884

 Petroleum Act, 1934

 Insecticide Act, 1968

 Indian Boilers Act, 1923

 Indian Electricity Act, 1910

 Dangerous Machines (Regulations) Act, 1983

 Indian Atomic Energy Act, 1962

 Radiological Protection Rules, 1971

 Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules, 1989.

There are also two key laws covering worker compensation and welfare. They are:
Workmen's Compensation Law, by which a worker can claim compensation under
establishments covered by the Factories Act. Employees Sate Insurance Act (ESI Act), which
is a contributory social insurance scheme that protects the interests of workers in
contingencies such as sickness, maternity, employment injury causing temporary or
permanent physical disability or death, loss of wages or loss of earning capacity ILO
conventions. The International Labor Organization frames key conventions for protecting the
rights of workers; many of them are specifically on occupational health and safety. These
conventions, once ratified by member states, form guiding principles for the formulation of
national policies and laws. The ILO has 18 conventions that are targeted at addressing the
issue of occupational safety and health (OSH). Though India has ratified 41 ILO conventions
and treaties on labour welfare and labour rights to date, it has ratified only three conventions
on OSH.


Accidents, despite being visible, are still grossly under reported in the Indian context.In most
places, occupational safety and health invariably means prevention of accidents; very little
attention is paid to occupational diseases. An accident-free workplace by no means implies a
safe workplace. Occupational diseases -- including cancers caused by various materials in the
workplace, including asbestos, carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals, silica, cotton, dust,
and radiation, job stress and work shifts -- usually take a long time to develop (from a few
months to more than 10 years). And given changing work practices, most industries tend to
hire workers on short-term contract. By the time they develop a disease, therefore, it is almost
impossible to link it to their work.

Non-communicable diseases result in more deaths than communicable diseases, except in

Africa. Overall, people are more likely to die of work-related diseases than childhood or
infectious diseases. Not many doctors are able to correctly diagnose an occupational disease.
In fact, certain occupational diseases like byssinosis (a lung disease caused by cotton dust)
and silicosis (a lung disease caused by silica dust) are often wrongly diagnosed as
tuberculosis. In a community where having a doctor is a privilege, an OSH specialist is
simply out of the question.


In India there is a serious shortage of trained occupational health professionals including

occupational physicians, industrial hygienists, occupational nurses, and safety specialists.
DGFASLI (2012) reports that there were 2,642 safety officers and 938 factory inspectors,
with 26 medical inspectors, 18 chemical inspectors, and one hygiene inspector in the
country in 2009. On top of the shortage of human resources, these inspectors have limited
training to carry out their duties. Factory inspectors in India typically undergo only a three-
month certificate course in industrial health offered by the Central Labor Institute (CLI); in
contrast, an occupational hygienist in Europe, North America or Australia undergoes
A two-year master’s degree in these disciplines. Pinole (2005, 2009) estimates ~100
occupational hygienists in the entire country. There are no competence-based syllabi for
occupational medicine, nursing, or industrial hygiene, accreditation organizations, and
specialist certifications such as the Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) designation. There
are several government organizations that carry out research and training in occupational
health including the CLI, the National Institute of Occupational Health, the Industrial
Toxicology Research Centre, and regional occupational health centers. However they are
underfunded and typically do not have strong collaborative links with each other. Their
output in terms of trained professionals graduating each year is much less than the need for
such professionals. There are no standard-setting bodies that develop occupational exposure
limits as compliance yardsticks in workplaces or guidance on best practices.

Infrastructure investment is a strong determinant of sustained economic growth. Occupational
health is a key component of a nation’s infrastructure, and the safety and health of workers
enhances productivity and has a positive impact on economic and social development. It is
also a source of competitive advantage. Given this growing recognition it is imperative that
significant reforms be implemented to improve India’s OHS infrastructure. While we
recognize that these may be challenging to achieve, the following are some of the more
immediate needs:

(i) Regulatory reforms are needed to ensure that occupational health laws cover all workers
including those in the informal sector, as well as those engaged in agriculture. The laws
should also be updated to encompass the full range of physical, chemical, and biological
hazards to which workers are exposed.

(ii) Significant investments by the central and state governments are required in developing
trained personnel in occupational medicine, industrial hygiene and safety, occupational
nursing, social workers, and public health researchers. A public-private partnership for these
investments would be ideal. These will be needed to meet the needs of occupational health
management in industry as well as the needs of the central and state government compliance
and enforcement activities. This entails investments in existing central institutes relevant to
OHS and universities to develop interdisciplinary curricula and training programmers in
OHS. A national and state wise needs assessment should be carried out to tailor the

(iii) The research and development activities of these institutes and universities need to be
aligned with national priorities with an emphasis on translating research into practice. A
central government institute needs to be given the mandate to generate systematic and
reliable data on toxicological and epidemiological information relating to various hazards to
guide standards-setting and implementation processes.

(iv) Administrative reforms are required to enhance coordination between various ministries
with OHS relevance such as labour, health and family welfare, human resource and
development, industry and agriculture, environment and forest, and commerce, and affiliated
institutes, to more effectively utilize resources. The occupational health infrastructure needs
to be integrated with primary health centers to provide timely available, easily accessible and
affordable healthcare services.

(v) In the private sector, the larger companies need to take the lead in making OHS a priority
and recognizing that it can be a strategic enabler of growth and source of competitive
advantage (e g, ISO certification). The culture of awareness of OHS can then diffuse the
global supply chain if the larger companies insist on it.


1. Saiyed H N and R Tiwari (2004): “Occupational Health Research in India”,

Industrial Health,

2. www.google.com