Labourmin wants national policy on safety at workplaces

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Sep 15 2012, 06:38am hrs
Labour minister Mallikarjun Kharge on Friday urged India Inc to invest in safety and health at workplaces to avoid accidents like the September 6 fire horror in a Sivakasi cracker factory that left more than 30 people dead. The cost of accidents are very high compared to investing in technologies and procedures that prevent them. The industry should implement the governments norms (on safety issues) in letter and spirit to sustain growth in output, Kharge said at a Ficci function here.

The concept of triple P bottom line accountability of people, planet and profit has become a necessity for achieving sustainable economic growth and making India a global manufacturing hub, Kharge said. It is essential that the manufacturers need to initiate continual improvement in programmes with an aim to achieve zero accidents in their organisation and improved productivity, he said.

Citing industrial accidents such as the deadly gas leak in Union Carbides unit in Bhopal and the Sivakasi fire , the minister said accidental losses are detrimental to growth.

I am sure you are all aware that the cost of an accident is very much high compared to that of its prevention, he said.

India is aiming to the raise the share of manufacturing in GDP to 25% in 10 years from the present 17% to attain high economic growth of 9-10% and generate 100 million jobs in the next 10 years.

As companies aim to expand their output faster, the risks of accident also rises.

In the mining sector, for instance, fatality rate or deaths due to accidents has increased to 0.39 per 1,000 workers in non-coal mines during 2001-10, from 0.36 in the previous decade. It has come down in coal mines to 0.27 from 0.33, according to the data collated by directorate general of mines safety.

The government has laid down a National Policy on Safety, Health and Environment at Workplace, which mandates reduction of accidents in workplaces by upgrading technology and maintaining safety standards. The government also proposes a legislationSafety and Health at Work Actwhich among other things mandates setting up a National Board of Occupational Safety and Health to deal with matters connected with safety of workers in all sectors or economy and assist government in implementation of the safety policy.

Industry leaders should initiate the process of implementing the policy and draw a suitable action plan for its implementation in its true letter and spirit, Kharge said.

Needless to say that in the integrated world of today, safety, health and environment have emerged as global issues and have become an important parameter for global competition, he said adding these parameters are judged as part of corporate social responsibility (CSR).