The state labour department has drafted the safety and health policy for workers employed in factories, shops and establishments, construction workers and workers from the unorganised sector. Officials said that the draft policy includes fixing the responsibility on safety auditors and owners of factories and establishments for accidents, appointing one safety officer for 250 workers instead of the current provision of one for 1,000 workers.
It also includes training workers through Industrial Training Institutes, providing safety kits to workers, rewarding factories and establishments complying with safety norms, among others, said officials.
The labour department had decided to come up with the safety and health policy for workers in the wake of the death of 26 people in two fire incidents in Mumbai in December.
The policy is aimed at fixing the responsibility for the safety of employees on factories and establishments, said an official. Currently, there are 36,933 factories in the state, besides approximately 35 lakh units of shops and establishments that employ such workers.
“Our aim is to achieve a zero-accident policy in factories and establishments. Now, we will amend the Factories Act, 1948, to have one safety officer for 250 workers instead of the current provision of one for 1,000 workers. While it is mandatory for factories to conduct safety audits, it is seen that owners, in connivance with safety auditors, conduct the audit as per their convenience. So, if any accident happens, safety auditors along with owners will also be held responsible,” said Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar, the state labour minister.
Nilangekar added that if it is found that a proper audit was not carried out, then cases will be filed against them. “Maharashtra is the first state to come up with such a safety and health policy for workers. We have now invited suggestions from stakeholders… after which the policy will be finalised,” added the minister. Another official said bringing chemical factories in the ambit of the state government was being considered.
“The number of accidents and lives lost in the gas leakages in the chemical factories is higher than any other mishaps in factories. Since chemical factories come under the Union government, the Maharashtra labour department cannot do much in such cases,” said the official.