OHS REGULATORY REQUIREMETS FOR MSME
MSMEs are considered the backbone of Indian economy. They contribute substantially to supplies and services to the large industries in both Government and Private sectors. The operation in these MSMEs involve several processes, many of them are hazardous in nature and pose risk if appropriate steps are not taken timely. Safe operational management is a key to ensure smooth production and optimised profits. Hence, MSMEs must pay attention to the safety and occupational health requirements as provided in statutes as well as implement obligatory steps for ensuring improved overall health of the resources including human, machine and materials.
At present, Occupational Health and Safety in India is regulated by the Department of Labour and Employment in the country. Further, Directorate General Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes (DGFASLI) serves as a technical arm for promotion, research, training and advice on construction, construction, ports and harbours, while Directorate Generate of Mines Safety looks after the mines. There are two guiding OHS policies namely
- National Safety Policy (20th February, 2009), based on ILO Conventions155 and 187
- National Disaster Management Policy (23rd December 2005).
However, there are a number of acts and rules pertaining to safety and occupational health for practice and implementation as and when required and relevant. As per constitution of India, labour has been kept in the concurrent list, which means both center and state can form legislations
Salient features and parent law of major statutes specific to OHS are enumerated below:
FACTORIES ACT, 1948
The factories act consists of 11 chapters and 3 schedules. Health and Safety are covered under Chapter-3 and Chapter-4 respectively. Chapter-IVA on Hazardous processes was included after Bhopal Gas Disaster in 1984. The first schedule gives the list of hazardous processes wherein the stipulations in Chapter-IVA are applicable. The factories act has been amended from time to time. The latest has been in 2015, wherein it has been proposed to exclude small scale operations involving 20 workers without power and 40 workers with power. Instead, a new bill, Small Factories (Facilitation and Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 2015 has been proposed for MSME in 2016.
The factories rules are notified by states. Notable are from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. Few states have adopted neighbouring states rules such as Haryana which follows Punjab Factories Rules. States also notify several rules which are framed keeping in mind the nature of operating industries in the state, technical requirements such as safety officers, welfare of workers, maternity benefits and special provisions applicable. One should consult these rules for specific requirements applicable for factory.
MANUFACTURE, STORAGE, IMPORT OF HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS RULES, 1989 AMENDED 2000
This rule framed under Environment Protection Act 1986 is applicable to only factories which stores, handles, import hazardous chemicals above a specified limit termed threshold limit. The threshold quantities are specified in, column 3 of schedule 2 and 3 of the rules respectively. This rule also specifies the requirement of safety audits in factory. There are 684 hazardous chemicals specified in the rule.
THE EMPLOYEES’ STATE INSURANCE ACT, 1948
This is an Act to provide for certain benefits to employees in case of sickness, maternity and ‘employment injury’ and to make provision for certain other matters in relation thereto. Section 52A of the Act is the relevant section on occupational diseases. The Third Schedule provides a List of Occupational Diseases
THE BUILDING AND OTHER CONSTRUCTION WORKERS (REGULATION OF EMPLOYMENT AND CONDITIONS OF SERVICE) ACT, 1996
This is an act to regulate the employment and conditions of service of building and other construction workers and to provide for their safety, health and welfare measure and for other matter connected therewith or incidental thereto. This act is applicable for employing 50 or more workers for building or construction purpose.
Chapter-7 of this act covers Safety and Health Measures for ensuring protection to workers.
Laws especially pertaining to MSME are under transition phase. Nevertheless, the importance of implementing safety measures and ensuring safety of all stakeholders in a factory cannot be undermined. These were, are and shall be essential for ensuring a healthy work force and management, which in turn should give long term returns on the investment done by entrepreneurs.