Life is not so cheap! NHRC issues notices to Centre, States/UTs over reported high death rate of workers in accidents

New Delhi, Feb 2 : National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday issued notices to the Centre, States and Union Territories over the reported high death rate of workers in accidents in the registered factories and the measures taken for ensuring protection of their human rights.

NHRC took suo motu cognizance of a newspaper article that according to the Ministry of Labour & Employment’s Directorate General Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes (DGFASLI) data 3 people reportedly died and 11 were injured each day on an average between 2017-22, due to accident in the registered factories of the country, NHRC said in a statement.

Reportedly, as many as 3331 deaths were recorded between 2018 and 2020 but only 14 people were imprisoned for offences under the Factories Act, 1948, it added.

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 per cent 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 statement said.

Human rights risk can be mitigated at the stage of structuring contracts or other agreements between employers and employees within the purview of law giving due importance to the concept of Business and Human Rights, it said.

Accordingly, the Commission has issued notices to all the Chief Secretaries / Principal Secretaries, Department of Labour of all the States and Union Territories to provide detailed reports with respect to the death/incapacity of workers/employees due to accidents in the factories in their jurisdictions and the compensation paid to the injured / next of kin of the deceased, prosecution initiated against the occupier/factory owners and the number of safety officers employed as per Section 40B of the Factories Act, 1948, it said.

A notice has also been issued to the Secretary, 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 / to be taken for improving the human rights conditions in respect of the factory workers across the country. The response is expected within six weeks, the statement said.

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