Third-Party Pros to Check Safety Norms for Labour
Move to free construction cos from clutches of inspector raj
To free construction firms from the clutches of inspector raj, the government plans to allow independent accredited professionals to check their compliance with labour safety norms. The new system, apart from curbing corruption and harassment, is also expected to boost workers safety in the high-risk sector that directly employs over 30 million Indians. Currently, around 600 labour safety inspectors appointed by state governments are responsible for ensuring safety at over 3,00,000 construction sites across the country. The rate of fatal accidents among construction workers is five times higher than manufacturing sector workers, and 165 out of every 1,000 workers get injured at the workplace, making it the riskiest sector to work in. We have asked the Quality Council of India to develop a programme for accredited professionals who can go to building sites where inspectors are unable to go, and regularly certify their compliance with safety norms, said Anoop Chandra Pandey, joint secretary in the union labour and employment ministry. Though the powers of regulation will remain with the state government, the use of third party professionals is expected to help red-flag genuine safety risks without causing harassment to the industry. Apart from the risk of fatal accidents, workers also face health hazards from the materials they work with such as asbestosis, silicosis and lead poisoning. Construction workers are the most vulnerable segment of the workforce across the world, as their work is unorganised in nature, Pandey said. Till 1996,India didn't have any laws for such workers protection and the implementation of the Building and Other Construction Workers Act introduced that year has been patchy. We are not satisfied with the status of the legislation and policy to ensure workplace safety, the labour ministry official said. The implementation of the law is not good, though it is slightly better in bigger projects, compliance is worse in smaller construction sites, he said, pointing to the difficulties of monitoring lakhs of sites with just 600 inspectors
notified by states.
Economic Times, New Delhi, 30-11-2012