January 15, 2018 4:10:32 am
After the death of 26 people in two fires in Mumbai, the Labour Department has decided to create a ‘state safety policy’ that will cover shops, establishments, factories and construction workers. The decision to create such a safety policy was taken at a review meeting of the labour department on December 30, a day after the Kamala Mills fire in which 14 people were killed, according to officials with knowledge of the meeting. On December 18, 12 workers were killed when a fire broke out in a farsan shop in Sakinaka.
“After taking a review of these accidents, we have decided to bring in a safety policy. It will have a separate chapter on establishments. We are planning to bring in stringent safety norms for shops and establishments that will be applicable to all units irrespective of number of labourers. The policy will include norms for factories and construction workers,” said Sambhaji Patil-Nilangekar, state labour minister.
Nilangekar added that the policy will be an attempt to make establishment owners accountable for the safety of employees. “The safety norms will be part of self-certification by establishments. It is to fix the responsibility on these units. We will have the safety norms for combustible materials including gas cylinders. I have asked the department to prepare the policy and the draft will be ready by the end of this month,” he added.
Labour officials said the Directorate of Industrial Safety and Health (DISH) has been asked to draft the safety policy in coordination with other departments, such as labour commissioner’s office, the Maharashtra Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, among others. The Late Narayan Meghaji Lokhande Maharashtra Institute of Labour Studies has been roped in as a consultant. The state has 36,933 factories and approximately 35 lakh units of shops and establishments, said a labour official.
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According to DISH, there have been 140 accidental deaths in 2017, 150 deaths in 2016 and 145 deaths in 2015. Labour officials said they do not have a mechanism to keep the records of deaths from accidents in shops and establishments. “Our job is restricted only to giving and cancelling the registration of the shops and establishments as per the Act,” said an official.
DISH officials said a group of officials will visit factories to submit a report on safety norms. “The team will visit factory premises, interact with labourers and management before preparing a report on safety norms,” said a DISH official, adding that the labour department would prepare safety norms for shops, establishments and construction workers.
But unions have said the State has neglected labourers’ safety by amending laws. “The government seems to have woken up after destroying all safety and security of labourers by amending labour laws over the last few years. Safety of labourers at workplace is important, but we also want social safety for labourers,” said Vishwas Utagi, convenor of the Trade Union Joint Action Committee.
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