Friday, June 9, 2023

Factory accidents: NHRC issues notice to Centre, all States/Union Territories on high death rate of workers

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday issued notice to the 
Central government, besides all States and Union Territories of the country, over the high death rate of workers employed in factories due to accidents and the compensation provided to family members, seeking their response within six weeks.

The Commission directed the Chief Secretaries/Principal Secretaries, Department of Labour of all the States and Union Territories to provide detailed reports regarding death or injury to workers during accidents, action taken against the factory owners over such accidents, and the number of safety officers employed as per Section 40B of the Factories Act, 1948.

The Commission issued a statement, saying that it had taken suo motu cognisance of a newspaper article, which quoted the statistics from the Directorate General Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes (DGFASLI), Union Ministry of Labour and Employment.

The data revealed that on an average, three people died and 11 got injured each day between 2017 and 2022, due to accidents in registered factories of the country.

It said as many as 3331 deaths were recorded between 2018 and 2020, but only 14 people were imprisoned for offences under the Factories Act, 1948. 

DGFASLI said the information collected from the Chief Inspectors of Factories and Directors of Industrial Safety and Health revealed that only registered factories provided the data, whereas, 90 percent workers in India were employed in the informal sector. 

Even after two years of passing the new occupational safety and health code, it was yet to be implemented, it added.

The Commission said that the newspaper article raised serious concern over the human rights of workers employed in various business enterprises, including these factories. 

It said the human rights risk could be mitigated at the stage of structuring contracts or other agreements between employers and employees within the purview of law by giving due importance to the concept of Business and Human Rights.

The Chief Secretaries were directed to ensure that their response contained year-wise reports of the Chief Inspector of Factories taking measures against defaulting factory owners, including prosecution for the period from 2017 to 2022 in a tabulated form, besides measures taken by the States and UTs for effective implementation of various provisions of the Factories Act, 1948.

It further issued notice to the Secretary, Union Ministry of Labour and Employment, to submit an action taken report with regard to the implementation of Occupational Safety Health and Working Conditions Code and the measures taken for improving the human rights condition in respect of factory workers across the country.

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