Occupational safety, health and working condition code, 2019

by Grishma Shetty at lexcliq


A safe working environment is a fundamental right. India’s record in encouraging occupational and industrial safety remains frail even with year of economic growth. Workers lose their lives every year in ‘accident’ at the workplace. Hence, the ministry of labor and employment has come up with the occupational safety, health and working conditions code, 2019 in relation to safety, health standards, working conditions, welfare provisions, leaves and working hours for the employees. The code acts as a regulatory of health and safety conditions of workers in an establishment with 10 or more worker, and in all mines.

Safety, health, welfare, and improved working conditions are pre-requisite for well-being of the worker and also for economic growth of the country as healthy workplace of the country would be more productive and occurrence of less accidents and unforeseen incidents would be economically beneficial to the employers also.

Salient features of the code:

Enhances coverage= it would be applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more workers. Where any industry, trade, business, manufacture or occupation is carried on, or establishment of service sector.

National occupational safety and health advisory board= this will ultimately lead to reduction in multiplicity of committees under various acts and would ensure simplified and coordinates policy making.

Single registration mechanism= it proposes one registration for an establishment instead of multiple registration. This will create a centralized data base and promote ease of doing business.

Duties of employers = these duties will majorly include:

  1. Providing a workplace that is free from hazards that may cause injury or diseases.
  2. Providing free annual health examinations to employees in notified establishments.
  3. Issuing appointment letters to employees
  4. Informing relevant authorizes in case an accident at the workplace leads to death or serious bodily injury of an employee.

Rights and duties of employees= the rights and duties of employees includes-

  1. Taking care of their own health and safety
  2. Complying with the specified safety and health standards
  3. Reporting unsafe situations to the inspector.
  4. Every employee will have the right to obtain from the employer information related to safety and health standards.

Special provisions for factories= government can declare any place wherein manufacturing process is being carried out as a factory, and for any person working at such premises to be classified as workers.

Special provisions for women employees= women permitted to work beyond 7 pm and before 6  am subject to the safety, holidays, working hours or any other condition as prescribed by appropriate government in respect of prescribes establishment , only after taking their consent for night work.

Offences and penalties= an offence that leads to the death of an employee will imprisonment of up to 2 year or fine up to Rs.5 lakhs or both . For any other violation where the penalty is not specified, the employer will be penalized with a fine between 2 and 3 lakh rupees. If an employee violates the provisions of the code, he will be subject to fine of up to rupees 10,000.

The code have some limitations they are:

  1. Certain workers not covered under this code = the code covers establishments with 10 or more workers. It excludes establishments with less than 10 workers except factories and mines.
  2. Civil court barred from hearing matters under the code= the code bars civil courts from hearing any matters under the code, under the existing 13 health and safety laws, claims which affect the rights of workers such as wages, work hours, and leave, are heard by labour courts and industrial tribunals.
  3. Wages not defines in the code= the code refers to ‘wages’ in the provisions relating to overtime work and calculation of leave. However, it does not define the term.

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