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Health and Safety Provisions under Factories Act, 1948


There are various measures under Factories Act 1948 which are taken by factories for health, safety and welfare of their workers. Such measures are provided under Chapters III, IV and V of the Act which are as follows:

Chapter III of the Act deals with the following aspects.

(i) Section 11 ensures the cleanliness in the factory

It must be seen that a factory is kept clean and it is free from effluvia arising from any drain, privy or other nuisance. The Act has laid down following provisions in this respect :

  1. All the accumulated dirt and refuse on floors, staircases and passages in the factory shall be removed daily by sweeping or by any other effective method. Suitable arrangements should also be made for the disposal of such dirt or refuse.
  2. Once in every week, the floor should be thoroughly cleaned by washing with disinfectant or by some other effective method [Section 11(1)(b)].
  3. Effective method of drainage shall be made and maintained for removing water, to the extent possible, which may collect on the floor due to some manufacturing process.
  4. To ensure that interior walls and roofs, etc. are kept clean, it is laid down that: (i) white wash or color wash should be carried at least once in every period of 14 months; (ii) where surface has been painted or varnished, repair or revanish should be carried out once in every five years, if washable then once in every period of six months; (iii) where they are painted or varnished or where they have smooth impervious surface, it should be cleaned once in every period of 14 months by such method as may be prescribed.
  5. All doors, windows and other framework which are of wooden or metallic shall be kept painted or varnished at least once in every period of five years.
  6. The dates on which such processes are carried out shall be entered in the prescribed register. If the State Government finds that a particular factory cannot comply with the above requirements due to its nature of manufacturing process, it may exempt the factory from the compliance of these provisions and suggest some alternative method for keeping the factory clean. [Section 11(2)]

(ii) Disposal of waste and effluents

Every occupier of a factory shall make effective arrangements for the treatment of wastes and effluents due to the manufacturing process carried on in the factory so as to render them innocuous and for their disposal. Such arrangements should be in accordance with the rules, if any, laid down by the State Government. If the State Government has not laid down any rules in this respect, arrangements made by the occupier should be approved by the prescribed authority if required by the State Government. (Section 12)

(iii) Ventilation and temperature

Section 13 provides that every factory should make suitable and effective provisions for securing and maintaining :-

  1. adequate ventilation by the circulation of fresh air; and
  2. such a temperature as will secure to the workers reasonable conditions of comfort and prevent injury to health. What is reasonable temperature depends upon the circumstances of each case. The State Government has been empowered to lay down the standard of adequate ventilation and reasonable temperature for any factory or class or description of factories or parts thereof. It may direct that proper measuring instruments at such places and in such position as may be specified shall be provided and prescribed records shall be maintained.

Measures to reduce excessively high temperature: To prevent excessive heating of any workroom following measures shall be adopted:

  1. Walls and roofs shall be of such materials and so designed that reasonable temperature does not exceed but kept as low as possible.
  2. Where the nature of work carried on in the factory generates excessively high temperature, following measures should be adopted to protect the workers:
    1. by separating such process from the workroom; or
    2. insulating the hot parts; or
    3. adopting any other effective method which will protect the workers.
  3. The Chief Inspector is empowered to direct any factory to adopt such methods which will reduce the excessively high temperature. In this regard, he can specify the measures which in his opinion should be adopted. (Section 13)

(iv) Dust and fume

There are certain manufacturing processes like chemical, textile or jute, etc., which generates lot of dust, fume or other impurities. It is injurious to the health of workers employed in such manufacturing process. Following measures should be adopted in this respect:

  • Effective measures should be taken to prevent the inhalation and accumulation of dust, fumes etc., in the work-rooms.
  • Wherever necessary, an exhaust appliances should be fitted, as far as possible, to the point of origin of dust fumes or other impurities. Such point shall also be enclosed as far as possible.
  • In stationary internal combustion engine and exhaust should be connected into the open air.
  • In cases of other internal combustion engine, effective measures should be taken to prevent the accumulation of fumes there from. (Section 14) It may be pointed that the evidence of actual injury to health is not necessary. If the dust or fume by reason of manufacturing process is given off in such quantity that it is injurious or offensive to the health of the workers employed therein, the offence is committed under this Section. Lastly the offence committed is a continuing offence. If it is an offence on a particular date is does not cease to be an offence on the next day and so on until the deficiency is rectified.

(v) Artificial humidification

Humidity means the presence of moisture in the air. In certain industries like cotton, textile, cigarette, etc., higher degree of humidity is required for carrying out the manufacturing process. For this purpose, humidity of the air is artificially increased. This increase or decrease in humidity adversely affects the health of workers.

Section 15(1) empowers the State Government to make rules (i) prescribing the standards of humidification, (ii) regulating methods to be adopted for artificially increasing the humidity of the air, (iii) directing prescribed tests for determining the humidity of the air to be correctly carried out, and recorded, and (iv) prescribing methods to be adopted for securing adequate ventilation and cooling of the air in the work-room.

Section 15(2) lays down that water used for artificial humidification should be either purified before use or obtained from a public supply or other source of drinking water. Where the water is not purified as stated above. Section 15(3) empowers the Inspector to order, in writing, the manager of the factory to carry out specified measures, before a specified date, for purification of the water.

(vi) Overcrowding

Overcrowding in the workroom not only affect the workers in their efficient discharge of duties but their health also. Section 16 has been enacted with a view to provide sufficient air space to the workers. (1) Section 16(1) prohibits the overcrowding in the work-rooms to the extent it is injurious to the health of the workers. (2) Apart from this general prohibition Section 16(2) lays down minimum working space for each worker as 14.2 cubic meters of space per worker in every workroom. For calculating the work area, the space more than 4.2 meters above the level of the floor, will not be taken into consideration.

Posting of notice: Section 16(3) empowers the Chief Inspector who may direct in writing the display of a notice in the workroom, specifying the maximum number of workers which can be employed in that room. According to Section 108, notice should be in English and in a language understood by the majority of the workers. It should be displayed at some conspicuous and convenient place at or near, the entrance. It should be maintained in clean and legible conditions.

Exemptions : The chief Inspector may by order in writing, exempt any work-room from the provisions of this section, subject to such conditions as he may think fit to impose, if he is satisfied that non-compliance of such provision will have no adverse effect on the health of the workers employed in such work-room.

(vii) Lighting

Section 17 of the Factories Act makes following provisions in this respect:

  • every factory must provide and maintain sufficient and suitable lighting, natural, artificial or both, in every part of the factory where workers are working or passing;
  • all the glazed windows and skylights should be kept clean on both sides;
  • effective provisions should be made for the prevention of glare from a source of light or by reflection from a smooth or polished surface;
  • formation of shadows to such an extent causing eye-strain or the risk of accident to any worker, should be prevented; and
  • the state government is empowered to lay down standard of sufficient and suitable lighting for factories for any class or description of factories or for any manufacturing process.

(viii) Drinking water

Section 18 makes following provisions with regard to drinking water.

  • every factory should make effective arrangements for sufficient supply of drinking water for all workers in the factory;
  • water should be wholesome, i.e., free from impurities;
  • water should be supplied at suitable points convenient for all workers;
  • no such points should be situated within six meters of any washing place, urinals, latrine, spittoon, open drain carrying sullage or effluent or any other source of contamination, unless otherwise approved in writing by the Chief Inspector;
  • all such points should be legible marked Drinking Water in a language understood by majority of the workers;
  • in case where more than 250 workers are ordinarily employed, effective arrangements should be made for cooling drinking water during hot weather. In such cases, arrangements should also be made for the distribution of water to the workers; and
  • the State Government is empowered to make rules for the compliance of above stated provisions and for the examination, by prescribed authorities, of the supply and distribution of drinking water in factories.
  • Latrines and urinals : Every factory shall make suitable arrangement for the provision of latrines and urinals for the workers. These points as stated below, are subject to the provisions of Section 19 and the rules laid down by the State Government in this behalf.

(ix) the State Government is empowered to make rules in respect of following

  • prescribing the number of latrines and urinals to be provided to proportion to the number of male and female workers ordinarily employed in the factory.
  • any additional matters in respect of sanitation in factories;
  • responsibility of the workers in these matters.


Chapter IV of the Act contains provisions relating to safety. These are discussed below:

(i) Fencing of machinery

Fencing of machinery in use or in motion is obligatory under Section 21. This Section requires that following types of machinery or their parts, while in use or in motion, shall be securely fenced by safeguards of substantial construction and shall be constantly maintained and kept in position, while the parts of machinery they are fencing are in motion or in use. Such types of machinery or their parts are:

  1. every moving parts of a prime-mover and flywheel connected to a prime-mover. It is immaterial whether the prime-mover or flywheel is in the engine house or not;
  2. head-race and tail-race of water wheel and water turbine;
  3. any part of stock-bar which projects beyond the headstock of a lathe;
  4. every part of an electric generator, a motor or rotary converter or transmission machinery unless they are in the safe position;
  5. every dangerous part of any other machinery unless they are in safe position.

(ii) Safety measures in case of work on or near machinery in motion

Section 22 lays down the procedure for carrying out examination of any part while it is in motion or as a result of such examination to carry out the operations mentioned under clause (i) or (ii) of the proviso to Section 21(1). Such examination or operation shall be carried out only by specially trained adult male worker wearing tight fitting clothing (which shall be supplied by the occupier) whose name has been recorded in the register prescribed in this behalf and who has been furnished with a certificate of appointment and while he is so engaged.

No woman or young person shall be allowed to clean, lubricate or adjust any part of a prime-mover or any transmission machinery while the prime-mover or transmission machinery is in motion or to clean, lubricate or adjust any part of any machine if the cleaning, lubrication and adjustment thereof would expose the woman or the young person to risk of injury from any moving part either of that machine or of any adjacent machinery [Section 22(2)].

(iii) Employment of young persons on dangerous machines

Section 23 provides that no young person shall be required or allowed to work at any machine to which this section applies unless he has been fully instructed as to dangers arising in connection with the machine and the precautions to be observed and (a) has received sufficient training in work at the machine, or (b) is under adequate supervision by a person who has a thorough knowledge and experience of the machine.

(iv) Striking gear and devices for cutting off power

Section 24 provides that in every factory suitable striking gears or other efficient mechanical appliances shall be provided and maintained and used to move driving belts to and from fast and loose pulleys which form part of the transmission machinery and such gear or appliances shall be so constructed, placed and maintained as to prevent the belt from creeping back on the fast pulley. Further, driving belts when not in use shall not be allowed to rest or ride upon shafting in motion.

Suitable devices for cutting off power in emergencies from running machinery shall be provided and maintained in every work-room in every factory. It is also provided that when a device which can inadvertently shift from ‘off’ to ‘on position in a factory’, cutoff power arrangements shall be provided for locking the devices on safe position to prevent accidental start of the transmission machinery or other machines to which the device is fitted.

(v) Self-acting machines

Section 25 provides further safeguard for workers from being injured by self-acting machines. It provides that no traverse part of self-acting machine in any factory and no material carried thereon shall, if the space over which it runs is a space over which any person is liable to pass whether in the course of his employment or otherwise, be allowed to run on its outward or inward traverse within a distance of forty five centimeters from any fixed structure which is not part of the machines.

However, Chief Inspector may permit the continued use of a machine installed before the commencement of this Act, which does not comply with the requirement of this section, on such conditions for ensuring safety, as he may think fit to impose.

(vi) Casing of new machinery

Section 26 provides further safeguards for casing of new machinery of dangerous nature. In all machinery driven by power and installed in any factory

  • (a) every set screw, bolt or key on any revolving shaft, spindle, wheel or pinion shall be so sunk, encased or otherwise effectively guarded as to prevent danger;
  • (b) all spur, worm and other toothed or friction gearing which does not require frequent adjustment while in motion, shall be completely encased unless it is so situated as to be so safe as it would be if it were completely encased.

The section places statutory obligation on all persons who sell or let on hire or as agent of seller or hire to comply with the section and in default shall be liable to punishment with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 months or with fine which may extend to Rs. 500 or with both.

(vii) Prohibition of employment of woman and children near cotton openers

According to Section 27, no child or woman shall be employed in any part of factory for pressing cotton in which a cotton opener is at work. However, if the feed-end of a cotton opener is in a room separated from the delivery end by a partition extending to the roof or to such height as the inspector may in any particular case specify in writing, women and children may be employed on the side of partition where the feed-end is situated.

(viii) Hoists and lifts

Section 28 provides that in every factory:

  • (i) every hoist and lift shall be of good mechanical construction, sound material and adequate strength. It shall be properly maintained and thoroughly examined by a competent person at least once in every period of six months and a register shall be kept containing the prescribed particulars of every such examination,
  • (ii) every hoist way and lift way shall be sufficiently protected by an enclosure fitted with gates and the hoist or lift and every such enclosure shall be so constructed as to prevent any person or thing from being trapped between any part of the hoist or lift and any fixed structure or moving part,
  • (iii) the maximum safe working load shall be marked on every hoist or lift and no load greater, than such load shall be marked on every hoist or lift and no load greater than such load shall be carried thereon,
  • (iv) the cage of every hoist and lift shall be fitted with a gate on each side from which access is afforded to a landing,
  • (v) such gates of the hoist and lift shall be fitted with interlocking or other efficient device to secure that the gate cannot be opened except when the cage is at the landing and that the cage cannot be moved unless the gate is closed.

(ix) Lifting machines, chains, ropes and lifting tackles

In terms of Section 29, in any factory the following provisions shall be complied with respect of every lifting machine (other than a hoist and lift) and every chain, rope and lifting tackle for the purpose of raising or lowering persons, goods or materials:

  • (a) all parts including the working gear, whether fixed or movable, shall be
    • (i) of good construction, sound material and adequate strength and free from defects;
    • (ii) properly maintained;
    • (iii) thoroughly examined – by a competent person at least once in every period of 12 months or at such intervals as Chief Inspector may specify in writing and a register shall be kept containing the prescribed particulars of every such examination;
  • no lifting machine or no chain, rope or lifting tackle, shall, except for the purpose of test, be loaded beyond the safe working load which shall be plainly marked thereon together with an identification mark and duly entered in the prescribed register and where it is not practicable, a table showing the safe working loads of every kind and size of lifting machine or chain, rope or lifting tackle in use shall be displayed in prominent positions on that premises;
  • (c) while any person is employed or working on or near the wheel track of a travelling crane in any place where he would be liable to be struck by the crane, effective measures shall be taken to ensure that the crane does not approach within 6 meters of that place

(x) Safety measures in case of use of revolving machinery

Section 30 of the Act prescribes for permanently affixing or placing a notice in every factory in which process of grinding is carried on. Such notice shall indicate maximum safe working peripheral speed of every grindstone or abrasive wheel, the speed of the shaft or spindle upon such shaft or spindle necessary to secure such safe working peripheral-speed. Speed indicated in the notice shall not be exceeded and effective measures in this regard shall be taken.

(xi) Pressure plant

Section 31 provides for taking effective measures to ensure that safe working pressure of any plant and machinery, used in manufacturing process operated at pressure above atmospheric pressure, does not exceed the limits. The State Government may make rules to regulate such pressures or working and may also exempt any part of any plant or machinery from the compliance of this section.

(xii) Floor, stairs and means of access

Section 32 provides that in every factory

  • (a) all floors, steps, stairs passages and gangways shall be of sound construction and properly maintained and shall be kept free from obstruction and substances likely to cause persons to slip and where it is necessary to ensure safety, steps, stairs passages and gangways shall be provided with substantial handrails,
  • (b) there shall, be so far as is reasonably practicable, be provided, and maintained safe means of access of every place at which any person is at any time required to work;
  • © when any person has to work at a height from where he is likely to fall, provision shall be made, so far as is reasonably, practicable, by fencing or otherwise, to ensure the safety of the person so working.

(xiii) Pits, openings in floors etc.

Section 33 requires that in every factory every fixed vessel, sump, tank, pit or opening in the ground or in a floor which, by reason of its depth, situation, construction, or contents is or may be source of danger shall be either securely covered or securely fence. The State Government may exempt any factory from the compliance of the provisions of this Section subject to such conditions as it may prescribe.

(xiv) Excessive weights

Section 34 provides that no person shall be employed in any factory to lift, carry or make any load so heavy as to be likely to cause him injury. The State Government may make rules prescribing the maximum weights which may be lifted, carried or moved by adult men, adult women, adolescents and children employed in factories or in any class or description of factories or in carrying on any specified process.

(xv) Protection of eyes

Section 35 requires the State Government to make rules and require for providing the effective screens or suitable goggles for the protection of persons employed on or in immediate vicinity of any such manufacturing process carried on in any factory which involves

  • (i) risk of injury to the eyes from particles or fragments thrown off in the course of the process or;
  • (ii) risk to the eyes by reason of exposure to excessive light.

(xvi) Precautions against dangerous fumes, gases etc.

Section 36 provides

  • (1) that no person shall be required or allowed to enter any chamber, tank, vat, pit, pipe, flu or other confined space in any factory in which any gas, fume, vapor or dust is likely to be present to such an extent as to involve risk to persons being overcome thereby, unless it is provided with a manhole of adequate size or other effective means of egress.
  • (2) No person shall be required or allowed to enter any confined space as is referred to in sub-section (1), until all practicable measures have been taken to remove any gas, fume, vapor or dust, which may be present so as to bring its level within the permissible limits and to prevent any ingress of such gas, fume, vapor and unless:
    • (a) a certificate in writing has been given by a competent person, based on a test carried out by himself that the space is reasonably free from dangerous gas, fume, vapor or dust; or
    • (b) such person is wearing suitable breathing apparatus and a belt securely attached to a rope, the free end of which is held by a person outside the confined space.

(xvii) Precautions regarding the use of portable electric light

Section 36A of the Act provides that in any factory

  1. no portable electric light or any other electric appliance of voltage exceeding 24 volts shall be permitted for use inside any chamber, tank, vat, pit, pipe, flu or other confined space unless adequate safety devices are provided; and
  2. if any inflammable gas, fume or dust is likely to be present in such chamber, tank, vat, pit, pipe, flu or other confined space unless adequate safety devices are provided, no lamp or light other than that of flame proof construction shall be permitted to be used therein.

(xviii) Explosive or inflammable dust gas, etc.

Sub-section (1) of section 37 of the Act provides that in every factory where any manufacturing process produces dust, gas, fume or vapor of such character and to such extent to be likely to explode on ignition, all practicable measures shall be taken to prevent any such explosion by

  • (a) effective enclosure of the plant or machinery used in the process
  • (b) removal or prevention of the accumulation of such dust, gas fume or vapor, and
  • © exclusion or effective enclosure of all possible sources of ignition.

(xix) Precautions in case of fire

Section 38 provides that in every factory all practicable measures shall be taken to outbreak of fire and its spread, both internally and externally and to provide and maintain

  • (a) safe means of escape for all persons in the event of fire, and
  • (b) the necessary equipment and facilities for extinguishing fire.

Effective measures shall be taken to ensure that in every factory all the workers are familiar with the means of escape in case of fire and have been adequately trained in the outline to be followed in such case.

(xx) Power to require specification of defective parts or test to stability

Section 39 states that when the inspector feels that the conditions in the factory are dangerous to human life or safety he may serve on the occupier or manager or both notice in writing requiring him before the specified date to furnish such drawings, specifications and other particulars as may be necessary to determine whether such building, machinery or plant can be used with safety or to carry out such test in such a manner as may be specified in the order and to inform the inspector of the results thereof.

(xxi) Safety of buildings or machinery

Section 40 provides that the inspectors in case of dangerous conditions of building or any part of ways, machinery or plant requires the manager or occupier or both to take such measures which in his opinion should be adopted and require them to be carried out before a specified date. In case the danger to human life is immediate and imminent from such usage of building, ways of machinery he may order prohibiting the use of the same unless it is repaired or altered.

(xxii) Maintenance of buildings

Section 40-A provides that if it appears to the inspector that any building or part of it is in such a state of disrepair which may lead to conditions detrimental to the health and welfare of workers he may serve on the manager or occupier or both, an order in writing specifying the measures to be carried out before a specified date.

(xxiii) Safety officers

Section 40-B provides that in every factory

  • (i) where 1,000 or more workers are ordinarily employed or
  • (ii) where the manufacturing process or operation involves risk of bodily injury, poisoning or disease or any other hazard to health of the persons employed therein, the occupier shall employ such number of safety officers as may be specified in the notification with such duties and qualifications and conditions of service as may be prescribed by State Government.

(xxiv) Power to make rules to supplement this Chapter.

This is vested in the State Government under Section 41 for such devices and measures to secure the safety of the workers employed in the factory.

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