A few salient features are briefed below for the benefit of readers and OHS professionals.
STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS
- The Factories Act was enacted in 1948. Its main object is to ensure adequate safety measures and to promote the health and welfare of the workers employed in factories. The Act has been amended in the years 1949, 1950, 1951, 1954, 1970 and 1976. The last amendment to the Factories Act, 1948 was made in the year 1987 as the Factories (Amendment) Act, 1987, wherein a separate Chapter was inserted relating to hazardous process.
- There have been several developments over the last twenty years ever since the last amendment was made. These developments include changes in the manufacturing practices and emergence of new technologies, ratification of ILO Conventions, Judicial decision, recommendations of the Committees and decisions taken in the Conferences, of Chief Inspectors of Factories.
- In view of above developments and suggestions from various Ministries of the Central Government, employers and trade union representatives, it has been decided to amend the Factories Act, 1948 by an amendment Bill, namely, the Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2014.
- The Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2014, inter alia, provides the following, namely:–
(4.1) to substitute a new section for section 66 of the Act providing further restrictions on employment of women;
“66. The provisions of this Chapter shall, in their application to women in factories, be supplemented by the following further restrictions, namely:—
(a) No exemption from the provisions of section 54 may be granted in respect of any women;
(b) There shall be no change of shifts except after a weekly holiday or any other holiday; and
(c) No woman shall be required or allowed to work in any factory except between the hours of 6 A.M. and 7 P.M.
Provided that where the State Government or any person, authorised by it in this behalf, is satisfied that adequate safeguards exist in a factory as regards occupational safety and health, provision of shelter, rest rooms, lunch rooms, night crèches and ladies’ toilets, equal opportunity for women workers.
(4.4) to amend section 22 of the Act so as to prohibit the pregnant woman or a person with disability to work on or near machinery in motion;
(4.10) to amend section 18 of the Act so as to extend the provisions relating to drinking water to all factories irrespective of number of workers;
- The Bill seeks to achieve the above objects.