On the 7th June 2021, an industrial disaster in the Pirangut industrial zone in Pune claimed the lives of 15 women and 2 men (Darwin 2021). More often than never such incidents are a result of inadequate and unsatisfactory health and safety measures taken by organizations to protect the welfare of their workers and environment. This incident, like the several other preventable industrial incidents taking place in India every year, highlights the urgent need for organizations to understand and consequently, implement adequate health and safety measures in workspaces. Implementing health and safety measures in workspaces, through an ethical lens, not only protects the health, safety and welfare of the organization’s employees but also the overall protection of external stakeholders such as the local community and immediate environment. Furthermore, by implementing health and safety measures, organizations prevent prospective financial liability that may arise in form of legal costs and expenses as a majority of these measures are mandated by law. Despite the numerous benefits of the same, a large number of organizations in India attempt to bypass such compliances. The following sections of this article aims to comprehensively analyse and evaluate the current circumstances of health and safety in India and the measures the Indian Government is taking to support and supervise the same.

Access to a safe and healthy work environment is the basic right of each and every worker, from both- a ethical and legal point of view. However, a large number of organizations still fail to adhere to the relevant guidelines to protect the health and safety interests of their employees. India, despite being one of the largest and rapidly growing industrial economies, is regressive in terms of healthy and safe working conditions. Mike Robinson, the CEO of the British Safety Council, opines that India is in the same position that Britain was around fifty to sixty years ago in light of workplace accidents (Times of India 2017). The British Safety Council, quoting International Labour Organization (ILO), estimates that there are approximately 48,000 fatalities in India every year, as a result of workplace accidents (Times of India 2017). This number is estimated to be 20 times that of a developed nation such as that of the United Kingdom, which only recorded 137 fatal accidents in 2016 (Times of India 2017). Apart from these 48,000 fatalities that take place every year, there are thousands of other non-fatal accidents that take place every year. This can be attributed to the factors such as the supervisor to worker ratio in Indian factories. An appropriate supervisor to worker ratio will ensure that all safety norms are being diligently followed. However, unfortunately, the British Safety Council states that there is only one registered factory supervisor for every 506 registered factories in India (Times of India 2017). Despite the serious civil and criminal consequences of not adhering to work place safety measures, organizations in India still tend to do so.

India, in terms of health and safety regulations, is not only regressive in comparison to developed western nations, but also to its eastern and south eastern counterparts. The ILO records that, in 1994, there were 23 deaths per 1000 workers compared to only four in Japan. Furthermore, Singapore recorded only 10 deaths per 1000 workers in 1992 (Centre 2001). Despite the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic, which only calls for stricter health and safety regulations, the circumstances are not improving. With the new dimension of preventing the spread of disease and protecting the workers and local community through the prevention of close contact of people through social distancing, ensuring that there are strict health and safety regulations in place is more pertinent than ever.

To identify and ascertain India’s poor present condition of health and safety standards, relative to the global standards, it is necessary to analyse the role of the government in the same. The Government’s constitutional and legislative perspective forms the backbone of health and safety compliances that organizations are supposed to diligently follow.

The fundamental provisions for occupational health and safety is embedded in the Indian Constitution. Article 24 of the Indian Constitution. The provisions of the Indian Constitution provide the fundamental basis of health and safety laws and further direct the state to formulate policies that create a framework for the implementation of health and safety measures throughout various sectors of the economy (WHO 2021). Article 24 of the Indian Constitution prohibits the employment of children under the age of 14 years in factories or mines (India 1949). This is to protect the needs and interests of minors as they require explicit protection from exploitation as they are relatively more vulnerable than other age groups. Furthermore, the provisions of Article 42 of the Indian Constitution imposes the duty of securing healthy ,just and humane conditions for work (India, Constitution of India 1949). This article explicitly imposes the responsibility of creating a legislative framework with appropriate provisions for ensuring that organizations are complying with the health and safety regulations to protect the health, safety, needs and interests of workers. Moreover, Article 42 of the Indian Constitution sets stage for a number of different legislative provisions that protect the rights, needs and interests of specific target groups.

In September 2020, the Indian parliament passed the Occupational Safety, Health and Safety Code, 2020 (hereinafter OSH Code), along with 3 other trade and labour laws, which combined over 10 separate labour laws into a single detailed and comprehensive act. The Code aims to streamline and smoothen labour and health and safety regulations in the labour market. This law brings forth uniformity to the manner in which labour laws, including health and safety compliances are implemented throughout the country (Cyrill 2021). The Acts that are included in the aforementioned codes are as follows-

  • Factories Act, 1948
  • Mines Act, 1952
  • Dock Workers Act, 1986
  • Contract Labour Act, 1970
  • Inter-State Migrant Workers Act, 1979
  • The Plantations Labour Act, 1951
  • The Working Journalist and Other News Paper Employees Act, 1955
  • The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961
  • The Sales Promotion Employees Act, 1976
  • The Beedi and Cigar Workers Act, 1966

The compilation of the aforementioned acts puts forth the rights, duties and liabilities of employers, employees and workers with an aim to ensure a safe and secure working environment for all. The relevant authorities are accountable and responsible for the supervision of health and safety standards. Such authorities that are responsible for the ambit of the OSH Code include National and State Level Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board, Health and Safety Inspectors, Facilitators, and Safety Committees.

The  provisions OSH Code mandates the Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board, both at national and state-level, to advise the Central government on matters pertaining to the standards, rules and regulations under the OSH Code and any other policy based issues pertaining to health and safety. While the Advisory Board is responsible for the legislative tasks, the Health and Safety Inspector and Facilitators are responsible for the investigation of any accidents that take place and conduct inspections of factories and workplaces, as a whole, to ensure that health and safety guidelines are being followed thoroughly and organisations. Finally Safety Committees are responsible for acting as a communication channel between employers and employees, conveying needs and interests of both parties (Cyrill 2021).

The aforementioned authorities are responsible for ensuring that employers, such as factory owners are fulfilling their obligations by complying with the rules and regulations and subsequently, holding the appropriate party responsible for accidents. The employer’s key obligations, as imposed by the legislation, is as follows:

The employer is responsible for ensuring that the employees and workers are provided with a hazard free workplace which can potentially cause injury or occupational disease to the employee. The employer must comply with all the rules and regulations put forth in the OSH Code and any subsequent directions from the aforementioned government authorities.

The employer must also provide free health examinations employees of certain charges. This is of particular importance in the prevailing times as the Covid-19 threat poses a threat to the health and safety of workers in work places.

The employer must also ensure the creation and maintenance of safe spaces in the working environment and also ensure that employees are not charged for the compliance with health and safety regulations. All such charges must be incurred by the employers, themselves. Such charges include that of an investigation of an incident and regular inspection of the workplaces. A safe and healthy workplace has characteristics such as an adequately and appropriately spaced out workspace with no overcrowding, effective ventilation, clean common spaces such as washrooms, fresh drinking water, among others. (Cyrill 2021).

Furthermore, in light of the recent adversities faced by migrant workers in India during the prolonged lockdown as a result of the pandemic, the Government put forth certain guidelines to protect their needs and interests. The employer must provide inter-state migrant workers additional benefits such as an allowance for their travel needs etc.

The Code puts forth other similar health and safety rules and regulations that support the needs and interests of workers. Although it is argued by policy makers that in theory, the legislation is adequate to protect the needs and interests of workers, by providing a safe and healthy workplace, in practicality, there is an inefficient and ineffective implementation of the same, The Government must ensure that all the aforementioned guidelines are being followed by conducting regular and thorough inspections and subsequently, fine defaulters to deter any such violation.


Darwin, Yuan. 2021. Indian chemical factory explosion and fire kill 18. June 17. Accessed June 21, 2021. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2021/06/18/fire-j18.html.

  1. Times of India . November 20. Accessed June 21, 2021. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/48000-die-due-to-occupational-accidents-yearly-study/articleshow/61725283.cms.

Centre, ASIA Monitor Resourse. 2001. NDIA – HEALTH AND SAFETY AT WORK. July 1. Accessed June 21, 2021. https://amrc.org.hk/content/india-health-and-safety-work.

WHO. 2021. Occupational Health. https://www.who.int/india/health-topics/occupational-health.

India, Govt of. 1949. Consititution of India. https://legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/COI_1.pdf.

Cyrill, Melissa. 2021. India’s Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020: What is it and How Should Companies Prepare? January 22. Accessed June 21, 2021. https://www.india-briefing.com/news/indias-occupational-safety-health-and-working-conditions-code-2020-what-is-it-and-how-should-companies-prepare-21545.html/.






jgu id: 19010046