The GOI has enacted various laws to improve working conditions in India, such as the Minimum Wages Act, the Workers' Compensation Act of 1923 (modified in 1962), and therefore the Contract Labor Act of 1970. Despite these acts and measures introduced by the companies themselves, the speed of accidents remains alarmingly high. In developing countries such as India, awareness of safety measures can effectively enhance safety knowledge at all levels of the world.
Management and planning is a way of avoiding calamitous events on a construction site. Accidents are direct consequence of unsafe activities and conditions, both of which may be under management control. Nearly 8.5 million laborers are employed in India on construction sites. The development industry in India is vital because it generates employment in large numbers and also creates investment opportunities for various related sectors.
Aims of the clause
The main aim of these clauses is to ensure that legal safety provisions are made available to workers and workers on the construction site and that these safety clauses ensure that they have the right to have a secure environment in place with the utmost diligence. The safety of workers is usually ignored on these sites, despite the numerous provisions in place for them.
Scope and limit
The contractors are ignorant of the safety of their workers at the construction site. They hardly pay any attention to train them or make them aware of the risk that comes with the work they are undertaking.
Most workers from ill-educated backgrounds do not know about risks and health issues; the government has enacted acts and rules to ensure workers' rights, and to ensure that contractors and owners work accordingly. These laws help workers to protect themselves against accidents.
Legal safety clauses available on construction sites
There are provisions and legal sections in place to safeguard the rights of construction workers in India. There are 2 major forms of legislation which govern health and safety laws which are as follows:
- Building & construction workers (Regulation of Employment & Condition of Services) Act of 1996.
- The Building & Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment & Condition of Services) Central Rules of 1998.
- The BOCW Act was created on 20 August, 1996 with the aim to safeguard the construction workers in India who are at risk, to help them in any disparity done at their cost.
- As per the welfare scheme, it is mentioned that every such worker on a construction site between the ages between 18 to 60 years who has been working on the site for not less than 90 days in the previous 12 months is entitled to be registered as a beneficiary.
- Every such worker is required to get benefits such as reimbursement of expenses of medical nature, free medical care, and financial assistance in case of an accident, benefits of maternity benefits, etc, from the welfare fund created by BOCW’s welfare board under this Act. The wage hours, minimum basic payment, and their weekly rest are specified under the BOCW act, following appropriate governmental decisions:
- Rule 34 calls for the right of protection against excessive noise, the noise limit should not be limited to 90 decibels within 8 working hours.
- Rule 35 calls for provisions on fire extinguishing equipment which are sufficient to put an end to any fire at the construction site. Availability of sufficient water to be used for fire extinguishing with ample pressure should be provided in accordance with the National Building Code or the applicable fire safety standards. Any trained person on the construction site should be present when an emergency arises and the equipment used must be inspected once a year.
- Rule 36 calls for that when the contractor employs more than 500 workers, they should have prepared an emergency action plan to check on the following emergencies:
- Fire or explosion;
- Any collapse of lifting appliances and transport equipment;
- Any leak of gas or spill of chemicals;
- Drowning of the worker;
- Landslides or any natural calamities.
- Rule 37 calls for the proper fencing of motors and revolving machinery, etc.
- Rule 38 calls for the rule of the prohibition on carrying excessive weight i.e. higher than 55 kg for men and 35 for women.
- Rule 39 calls for health and safety policy.
- Rule 45 calls for Eye protection.
- Rule 46 calls for headgears for protection and other apparel.
- Rule 47 calls for of Electrical hazards.
- Rule 54 calls for the use of safety helmets and shoes.
- Rule 56(1) calls for the test of lifting appliances.
- Rule 56(2) calls for periodical examination of lifting appliances.
- Rule 61 calls for Identification and marking of safe working load.
- Rule 64 calls for the operation of lifting appliances.
- Rule 108-118 call for the safety precautions during the demolition of walls, partition, etc.
- Rule 208 calls for the safety committee.
- Rule 209 calls for about the appointment of a Safety officer over every 500 workers
- Rule 213 calls for precautions during the handling of explosives.
- Rule 223 calls for medical examination of building workers.
- Rule 225 calls for safety precautions in hazardous processes.
- Rule 230 calls for notifiable occupational diseases to building workers.
Work Health and Safety (Construction Work) Code of Practice 2015: Provisions
The Code of Practice, 2015 has been designed to guide the principal builder (or contractor) or any other person involved in the construction process on how to comply with the health and safety requirements of the WHS Act. Under the WHS Act, it explains the type of construction work covered by the Regulation and what other related duties are and the specific duties relating to construction work and the risk management of construction work. Safe work method statements are provided under the Act, which means a written document setting out 18 high-risk construction work activities to be carried out at the workplace and the hazards and risks arising from this and the risk minimisation measures to be taken. Its main aim is to help supervisors and workers and to ensure that effective measures are taken to carry out these high-risk tasks in a safe manner. All construction workers must have a written WHS document before the start of the project from the main contractors. The person conducting the business must ensure that the information and training provided to the workers is adequate and that safety measures are put in place to eliminate the risks and the true nature of the work that needs to be done.
Contractor Responsibility for Safety at Site
The owner of the site has a responsibility to take care of every aspect of the construction that is going to happen. Some designers design projects such as designers, architects, engineers and designers. They must be aware of the deficiencies in the design they have presented, taking into account the health and safety of workers working on the site. It is the responsibility of the designer to provide information on how projects have been designed without any risk or health problems throughout the life of the project.
Under the WHS Regulation, a person conducting a business or undertaking a construction work commission must consult the designer if there is a possibility of risk and health problems and try to eliminate the work. It is their job to obtain a copy of the designer's safety report if they have not commissioned the design of the construction project and to provide the main contractor with any information on possible risks and hazards in the vicinity of the workplace.
A builder has to ensure:
- Warning signs shall be placed at the workplace indicating his name and phone number and shall be visible from outside the workplace and even where the construction is taking place.
- Preparing and reviewing construction from all angles and ensuring that workers are made aware of the project's insights.
- Achieving safety work management prior to the on-site start of a high-risk project.
- Handles special risks to the health and safety of the plant not in operation and moving and disposing in workplace of building materials and waste and traffic caused by work in the region concerned and other critical services to the workplace.
Challenges faced by the Industry
In an unorganized industry in India, the construction industry is a work intensive sector that employs almost 60 million people. Staff is not in a position to coordinate for everyday living. The reasons may include illiteracy among people, migration from one state to another in search of employment, or ignorance. Some problems and difficulties are faced every day during the construction work and here are the following:
- The excess use of subcontractors creates chaos on the construction site. Many of the companies don’t look for safety but to just earn profits, selling their projects to the subcontractors for a certain percentage of profit. This causes several problems in safety planning and coordination.
- The lack of a set of safety regulations is one of the most important issues facing workers. Employees are not updated with new technologies and construction methods.
- The Government of India has encouraged its citizens to set up small businesses that are particularly concentrated in the construction sector. The longevity of these enterprises is unpredictable, therefore investing money in training and equipment is considered an unnecessary cost.
- The lack of data from the previous accidents that have occurred on the site makes the safety the last concern for the contractors and owners.
- Migrant labourers are an important aspect of the construction work in India. These workers migrate from their city or state for a job and are ready to work in any job to ensure a reasonable life for their families.
- The construction sites have workers from different communities, they don’t have any union by which they can defend their rights and secure their work. Hence, workers are unaware of the possibility of taking a stand for their safety and to defend themselves from the companies’ policies and rules.
In Indian construction sites, the contractor is solely responsible for ensuring the safety of the workers, because the workers are working under him and should manage their safety and take care of tasks that are of high risk. Contractors are required to provide the owner with a safety manual that has been compiled and designed for the facility. The contractor is also required to have a safety manual. The workers usually have no educational knowledge and received almost no training to improve their job skills so that they can learn how to prevent risks. Workers pay no attention to their safety because they are not aware of the severity of the damage that can be caused. Workers who are aware of safety issues and have undergone training should change their perception of safety issues and also encourage other participants to achieve safety at the construction site. Employers are required to comply with the government's rules and regulations on the safety of their workers.
#tags: Construction Sites, Indian Labourers, Workers in India, Contractors, Builders
February 17, 2021