NHRC notice to Centre, states over workers’ casualty due to factory accidents
The NHRC took suo motu cognizance of a recent media report that revealed three people died each day, on average, between 2017 and 2022 due to accidents in the registered factories of the country
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to the Centre, states and the Union territories to provide detailed reports with respect to the death and injuries of workers due to workplace accidents in factories.
The Commission took suo motu cognizance of a recent report that revealed three people died and 11 were injured each day, on average, between 2017 and 2022 due to accidents in the registered factories of the country.
The report by IndiaSpend cited data from the Union Ministry of Labour & Employment’s Directorate General Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes (DGFASLI).
According to the DGFASLI data, 3,331 deaths were recorded between 2018 and 2020, but only 14 people were imprisoned for offences under the Factories Act of 1948.
The NHRC in a statement said, “The Commission feels that the gravity of the matter, as highlighted in the newspaper article, raises serious concerns about the human rights of the workers in various business enterprises, including factories.”
The Commission has sent notices to the chief secretaries, principal secretaries, and the Department of Labour of all states and Union territories.
It has also sent a notice to the secretary of the Union Ministry of Labour & Employment to submit an action taken report with regard to the implementation of the Occupational Safety Health and Working Conditions Code and the measures taken or to be taken for improving the human rights conditions of the factory workers across the country.
The response to the NHRC notice is expected within six weeks.
The NHRC has directed that the reports contain year-wise reports of the chief inspector of Factories taking measures against defaulting factory owners. This will include prosecution action undertaken for the period from 2017 to 2022 in a tabulated form.
“The data collected by DGFASLI from Chief Inspectors of Factories and Directors of Industrial Safety and Health represents that only registered factories have provided the data, whereas 90% of workers in India are employed in the informal sector. Even after two years of passing the new occupational safety and health code, it is yet to be implemented,” the NHRC statement added.
The India Spend report found that out of 363,442 registered factories across the country in 2020, 84% were operational and employed 20.3 million workers, according to the latest available DGFASLI data.
On average, 1,109 deaths and more than 4,000 injuries in registered factories were reported each year, in four years leading up to 2020, as per the DGFASLI data.
Based on data presented by IndiaSpend received in response to an RTI request with Delhi’s labour department on November 11, 2022, Delhi had 13,464 registered factories as of October 2022, and 118 fatalities and injuries had been reported between 2018 and 2022.
The Delhi labour department’s RTI response also noted that the safety of informal and unorganised workers who are not related to factories does not come under the provisions of the Factories Act, of 1948. Henceforth, data on accidents in such workers were not compiled as per the Delhi labour department.