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  Table of Contents 
EDITORIAL
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-2
 

Occupational health legislation: Recent amendments (The Maharashtra Factories Rules): Issues and concerns


Editor, IJOEM, Siemens Ltd., 130, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, Opposite Doordarshan, Worli, Mumbai - 400018, India

Date of Web Publication16-Jul-2011

Correspondence Address:
G K Kulkarni
Vice President-Health Management, Siemens Limited, 130, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, Opposite Doordarshan, Worli, Mumbai - 400018
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0019-5278.82994

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How to cite this article:
Kulkarni G K. Occupational health legislation: Recent amendments (The Maharashtra Factories Rules): Issues and concerns. Indian J Occup Environ Med 2011;15:1-2

How to cite this URL:
Kulkarni G K. Occupational health legislation: Recent amendments (The Maharashtra Factories Rules): Issues and concerns. Indian J Occup Environ Med [serial online] 2011 [cited 2019 Jul 20];15:1-2. Available from: http://www.ijoem.com/text.asp?2011/15/1/1/82994


In the last fifty years Indian industry has grown rapidly and more so in the last two decades. This has resulted in increased manufacturing activities, technological advancements and change in work practices. This change in business environment has profound effect on health of working population. Thus the onus is on Occupational Health Physician to protect and promote health of working population. This can only be achieved by comprehensively implementing Occupational Health Legislations pertaining to work place.

The Occupational Health Legislation has been amended only twice in the last fifty years; one other central act related to Building and other Construction workers of 1996, and The Biomedical waste (management and handling) rules of 2003 under Environment protection act of 1986 have seen the daylight, whereas in the field of Public health more than thirty-six different Health Legislations have come with changing time. It is only after Bhopal disaster that legislations in the area of safety have been introduced. Health and environment were forced to be reframed and notified. Whether the change in legislation would result in improved Occupational health care at work place, or benefits of legislation remain only on the paper, is the issue of the hour.


  The Expectations From Occupational Health Legislation Would Be Top


  • Prohibiting conduct injurious to workers' health.
  • Protecting from disease and promoting positive health amongst the workers.
  • Define resources for Occupational Health care.
  • Carry out medical screening, surveillance and rehabilitation.
  • Address ethical issues in Occupational health care.

  Current Occupational Health Care Service is Because of Top


  • Governmental legislation.
  • Demand from the Trade Union.
  • Management concerns for compliance of legislation and Employee health care.
  • Action group Non Government Organizations (NGOs) like Indian Association of Occupational Health, National Safety Council (NSC) and others.

  Recent Amendments in Maharashtra State Factories Rules, 2010 September Top


There is need to focus on the recent amendments in Maharashtra state factory rules: "18-A. Medical examination of workers: All the workers shall be medically examined once a year by a Certifying Surgeon appointed or recognized by the Government under Section 10 of the act"

This is a very proactive reform by the Government with lot of logistic and capacity problems as given below:

  • It means entire employee population, irrespective of their exposure to hazardous substances have to examined and certified.
  • The contract labor status with respect to medical examination has not been clearly defined.
  • What kind of tests have to be done has not been defined.
  • Government has very few certifying surgeons both on rolls and through recognition, and hence it is impossible to fulfill the requirement of law through the current available resources.
  • With respect to Rule 73V which envisages the Medical examination with respect to Hazardous processes once in 6 months and empowers factory medical officer to carry out the same and maintain the records, the current amendment does not explicitly state that other than those exposed to hazardous process only have to be examined once a year. Thus, there is conflicting information.
  • There is no direction for capacity building with respect to pool of Certifying Surgeons and empowering Factory Medical Officers with requisite skills and qualifications.

  To Override all These Logistic and Capacity Concerns, Our Recommendations Are Top


  • Clarify the coverage and scope under rule 18-A and 73-W (especially with respect to Employees exposed to Hazardous process, non exposed employees and contract labor).
  • Define protocol of examination and tests to be carried out for both the rules.
  • Empower the Factory medical Officer to conduct the medical surveillance and record the results, and maintain communication with the regulatory authorities to update them about the health status of the workers.
  • Allocate existing Certifying Surgeons for monitoring hazardous process industries, thus optimizing existing resources.
  • A mechanism for accreditation of Certifying Surgeons and Factory Medical officers through professional body like Indian Association of Occupational Health (IAOH) should be introduced so that standard of service meets OSHAS18001 and EMS14001 requirements.
  • Government needs to clarify certain questions in this proactive amendment: is its regulatory infrastructure in place to fulfill the obligations of the law in letter and spirit; what are the performance indicators for Certifying Surgeons; and, what kind of working population to Certifying Surgeon's ratio have been defined to meet the requirements?

  Conclusions Top


At the outset, one should appreciate the efforts of the Government for pursuing the theme of "Total Health for working populations" It is the felt need of the hour to express and point out the inconsistencies in the amendment, so that they can be corrected at an early stage for the benefit of all. Any amendments in law should bring value to workforce protection and clarity must be there in the content of law. No ambiguity should be there on the part of the legislative amendment. It is not enough that there are Occupational Health legislations, but Occupational Health Physicians must put efforts to understand, and the will to implement Occupational Health laws. Employer must create supportive environment for practice of Occupational Health and provide opportunities for continuous learning and training for it. A regular dialogue must take place between Occupational Health Physicians, safety professionals and local factory inspectorate authorities to clear doubts', seek advice and bring in role clarity. Review of legislation is required once in five years and law makers must seek feedback from Occupational Health Physicians and other sources. Governments can involve NGO's like Indian Association of Occupational Health as members of the review committee on Occupational Health legislations. I am sure this will trigger the right thinking for all stake holders, leading to more functional amendments with the sole objective of protecting health of working populations.




 

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