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The Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Conditions Code 2020 (OSH Code) was one of three legislations pertaining to labour reforms passed by the Lok Sabha. The Ministry of Labour and Employment introduced it in the Lok Sabha on September 19, 2020.
Along with the Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Conditions Code 2020, two more legislation were passed:
- Industrial Relations Code 2020
- Social Security Code 2020
The OSH Code has unified various major pieces of labor-related legislation, such as the Contract Labor (Regulation and Abolition) Act of 1970, the Factories Act of 1948, and others, into a single comprehensive act.
Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code 2020 – Important Characteristics
- The Code broadens the definition of a factory to include any location having at least 20 workers for a power process and 40 workers for a non-power process.
- The Code establishes a daily work hour limit of eight hours.
- It defines an inter-state migrant worker as someone who comes from one state on his or her own and finds work in another state, earning up to Rs.18000 a month.
- It also allows women to work in a variety of settings and at night (between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.) with their consent and safety.
- The OSH Code eliminates the manpower restriction on hazardous working conditions and requires contractors hiring 50 or more people to comply with the Code (earlier it was 20)
- It ensures that no employee is responsible for ensuring workplace safety and health, which includes conducting medical examinations and investigations to discover occupational illnesses.
- The OSH Code requires the Central Government to create a National Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board (National Advisory Board) to provide advice to the government.
Important Definitions Under OSH Code 2020
Under the Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Conditions Code 2020, there are a few key definitions, some of which have been revised in light of previous labour codes:
Employee: From the year 2019’s code, this has been a consistent definition. “Employee” refers to a person who is paid to perform any skilled, unskilled, manual, operational, supervisory, management, administrative, technical, clerical, or other labour.
Employer: An “Employer” is a person who hires people, whether directly or indirectly, or on behalf of a business. The establishment is under the control of this person/authority.
- An “Establishment” is a group of people who work together to achieve a common goal. Any workplace with ten or more employees that engages in any industry, trade, company, manufacturing, or activity.
- With ten or more employees, a vehicle transportation company, a newspaper, an audio-visual production company, a building or other construction project, or a plantation
- A factory with ten or more workers is referred to as a large factory.
- A mine, a port, or the area around a port where dock work is done
Contract Labour: According to the OSH Code, “Contract Labor” refers to a worker who is deemed to be engaged in/in connection with a business through a contractor without the knowledge of the principal employer.
Hazardous Process: Any action related to specific industries, where raw/intermediate/finished/bye-products, etc. are not properly handled, may:
- Cause impairment to the concerned person’s health
- Pollution and harm to the environment
Wages: According to the OSH Code, “wage” refers to remuneration such as salaries, allowances, or other forms of remuneration represented in monetary terms for work performed by an employee, such as basic pay, dearness allowance, and so on. This excludes the following:
- Value of accommodation or light, water, medical attendance
- Employer contribution towards any pension or provident fund
- Conveyance allowance
- Sum paid to the employed person to defray special expenses
- House rent allowance
- Overtime allowance
Right of Employees under OSH 2020
Under this code, every employee has the following rights:
- The employee has the right to inquire about information pertaining to his or her health and safety, as well as the provisions in place to preserve the employee’s safety or health while doing work-related activities in the workplace.
- The employee may bring any threat or apprehension of serious injury or danger to life to the attention of the employer, who will conduct an inspection.
- If the situation arises as described above, the employer must file a complaint with the government as soon as possible.
- If the employer is not satisfied that there is an urgent threat as perceived by his or her employees, the subject can be sent to the inspector-cum-facilitator, whose decision is final.
Health, Safety and Working Conditions of Employees under OSH Code
The Central Government has outlined a few essential measures and processes that must be considered when it comes to the employee’s health and safety. The following are the same:
- Both male and female employees have their own restrooms.
- Separate bathing areas and locker rooms must be provided for males, females, and transgenders.
- A sitting arrangement is provided for employees who work in a standing position.
- First-aid facilities that are adequate
- At work, cleanliness and hygiene must be maintained.
- It’s essential to have access to portable drinking water.
- Lighting that is adequate
- Adequate safeguards against overcrowding
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