Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) is the discipline concerned with protecting human resources in the workplace. It consists of the social, mental and physical well-being of workers. OSH deals with every aspect of health and safety in the workplace and focuses on the primary prevention of hazards at the workplace. The workers’ health has several harmful effects, like risk factors at the workplace leading to diseases, accidents and stress-related disorders and communicable diseases. Continue reading this blog to find out the occupational safety and health regulations and it’s importance in the EIA report.
Objective of Occupational Safety and Health Regulations
- To reduce the incidence of work-related injuries, fatalities, diseases and loss of assets.
- Improve the coverage related to the risk associated at the workplace and provide a more comprehensive database for better performance and monitoring.
- Community awareness regarding safety, health and environment at workplace.
- Increase community expectations of workplace health and safety standards.
- Improving the workplace by creating green jobs and contributing to sustainable enterprise development. A good Occupational Safety and Health by projects can help them improve their EIA report and get clearance without any hindrance.
Major Laws and Regulations Dealing With Occupational Safety and Health
- The Factories Act, 1948 – It covers factories where implementing the safety of workers at the factory is done by the Chief Inspector of Factories.
- The Mines Act, 1952 and Mines Rules, 1955 for the mining industry where the enforcement is by the (DGMS) under the Ministry of Labour & Employment, Government of India,
- The Dock Workers (Safety, Health and Welfare) Act, 1986, followed by notification of the Dock Workers Regulations, 1990, dealt with the major ports of India, and the enforcement is by the Directorate General of Factory Advice Service & Labour Institutes (DGFASLI), under Ministry of Labour & Employment, Government of India, and
- The Building & Other Construction Workers (Regulations of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996, covers construction workers at construction sites. The enforcement is done by the Directorate General Labour Welfare at the central level and Factory Inspectorate/ Labour Commissioners in the States/UTs.
Other Legislation Related To Safety, Health and Environment
- The Indian Boilers Act, 1923 (Amended 2007)
- The Dangerous Machines (Regulation) Act, 1983
- The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961
- The Plantation Labour Act, 1951 (Amended 2010) and Rules there under
- The Shops and Commercial Establishments Acts
- The Explosives Act, of 1884 (Amended 1983)
- The Petroleum Act, of 1934
- The Inflammable Substances Act, of 1952
- The Insecticides Act, 1968 (Amended 2000)
- The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulation Board Act, 2006
- The Oil Fields (Regulation and Development) Act, 1948
- The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (amended 1991)
- The Water Cess Act, 1977
- The Air Act, 1981
- The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991
- The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010
- The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (Amended 2013)
- The Electricity Act, 2003 (Amended 2007)
- The Energy Conservation Act, 2001 (amended 2010)
- The Disaster Management Act, 2005
Authorities Responsible For Implementing Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Regulations
- Ministry of Labour & Employment (MoL&E)
- In the case of Mining, the implementation is done by the Directorate General of Mine Safety (DGMS).
- Directorate General of Factory Advisory Services (DGFASLI)
- Chief Controller of Explosives
- Chairman, Central Pollution Control Board, New Delhi
- Chief Labour Commissioner (Central)
- Principal Secretaries dealing with labour matters of four States
- Director General, Employee’s State Insurance Corporation
- Director General, Health Services, New Delhi
- Five representatives of employers
- Five representatives of employees
- A representative of a professional body associated with the matter for which standards, rules, and policies being framed – Member.
- Five eminent persons connected with the field of Occupational Safety and Health, or representatives from reputed research institutions or similar discipline – Member.
- Special invitees from the State Government or the Government of Union territory for seeking inputs in specific matters or industry or sector which are predominant in that State or Union territory – Member.
- Joint Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment – Member Secretary
- Chief Inspector of Factories / Directorate of Industrial Safety and Health of respective State Governments/UTs.
- Director General Labour Welfare (DGLW) (Labour welfare organisation)
Occupational Hazards Associated With the EIA
Occupational Hazards can be defined as any condition that may adversely affect the health and well-being of the exposed person at the workplace. Identifying the hazardous agents and groups of workers potentially exposed to these hazards is essential to characterize a workplace involving any occupational activity.
Occupational Hazards can be divided into two categories: safety hazards that cause accidents (worker is physically injured) and Health hazards that result in the outbreak of diseases. The occurrence or severity of occupational diseases is related to exposure to job or work environment factors. Such factors can be:
- Physical – Heat, noise, radiation, vibration, cold.
- Chemical – solvents, pesticides, heavy metals, dust.
- Biological – Tuberculosis, hepatitis B Virus, HIV
- Psychosocial Stressors – inadequate personal support or lack of control over work.
- Mechanical – cause work accidents and injuries
Cycle of neglect: These are the five important steps in the OSH. If neglected, it may lead to occupational Hazards in the workplace.
Figure 1: Cycle of neglect
Prevention and Mitigation Measures
The ideal approach to prevention of any hazard is “anticipated and integrated preventive measures”, which should include:
- Occupational health and environmental impact assessment, prior to the design and installation of any workplace.
- Selection of the least hazardous and least polluting and safest technology (Sustainable technology or green technology).
- Environmentally appropriate location.
- Proper design, with appropriate control technology and adequate layout, including the safe handling and disposal effluents and waste.
- Elaboration of guidelines and regulations for the training on the correct operation of the processes, including on safe work practice, maintenance and emergency procedure.
Occupational Safety and Health Management System in EIA Report
Figure 2: OSH System
The Vizag Accident – To produce expandable plastics, a plant was using styrene, and this chemical needed to be stored at a lower temperature (below 17°C). There was a partial shutdown of the plant due to the pandemic. As styrene was not stored properly, some valves broke due to a pressure build-up at the storage chamber, resulting in 3 tons of toxic gas leakage.
As the company has been operating since the 1960s, much before the legislation of EIA notification of 2006, there was no requirement of EC unless it expanded its production, changed raw materials or did any modernisation of the units. The company has been changing production and raw material since 2004 and was yet to obtain EC. Till 2017, the plant increased its polystyrene capacity many times. In 2017 APPCB directed the company to obtain Environmental clearance; otherwise, CTO would not be granted.
So, it is a crucial step in the Environmental Impact Assessment report to mention occupational safety and health because a minor incident may lead to life-threatening accidents. As we all know, such potential hazards, if not dealt with promptly, can cause loss of life and property.
To develop close involvement of social partners to meet the challenges ahead in the assessment and to control the workplace risks by mobilising local resources and extending the protection to the working population and vulnerable groups. The National Policy and programme predicts total dedication and demonstration by concerned stakeholders such as government and social partners. The main goal and objective are to give efforts with the requirements of safety, health and environment at the workplace, thereby improving the quality of the work and working life. Every individual’s safety and health are crucial in any workplace or project because any failure in the operational phase will lead to the closure of the business. And expert advice is needed for making a report and including the essential factors related to Occupational Safety and Health in the EIA report.
Occupational Safety, Health And Working Conditions Code, 2020 – Overview