The Factories Act, 1948 

An Act to regulating labour and working condition in factories. 

The Act is divided into following three parts –  

  • Workers’ health provisions: Section 11-20 
  • Workers’ safety provisions: Section 21-41 
  • Welfare provision: Section 42-50 
  • Defining working hours: Section 51-59  
  • Annual leave: Section 60 
  • Employment of Women 

Section 2 of the Act enlists definitions of some key terms relevant for this law including ‘hazardous processes, ‘day’, ‘week’, ‘manufacturing processes, ‘worker’, ‘occupier’ etc. The term ‘factory’ is defined [under section 2(m)] as a premise wherein 10 or more persons are engaged if power is used in the manufacturing process and 20 or more persons are engaged if power is not used in the manufacturing process.  

Section 7A states the general duties of an occupier. One of the foremost duties include ensuring health, safety and welfare of all workers while they are at work in the factory. The Act also mandates every occupier to prepare, a written statement of his general policy with respect to health and safety of the workers. The occupier must also provide notice to all workers in case of revision of any of these health/ safety policies. 

Section 9 enlists the powers of an inspecting staff which includes 

  • Examining the premises 
  • Inquiring into any accident or dangerous occurrence within the premise 
  • Seize or take copies of, any register, record or other document. 
  • No person shall be compelled under this section to answer any question or give any evidence tending to accuse himself. 

Section 10 allows appointing of a qualified medical practitioner to be a certifying surgeon on the factory premise. The appointed surgeon (as stated by the law) will be responsible examination of workers engaged in hazardous occupations/ processes, supervising cases of illness or cases of injury which have occurred due to the nature of manufacturing process. 

Section 11 mandates the occupier to maintain clean and safe working conditions by ensuring regular cleaning of floors, effective means of drainage, white washing the factory premise after every 14 weeks, painting/varnishing after every 5 years. 

According to Section 12 of the Act, there should be proper arrangements or disposal of factory related wastes and effluents. 

Section 13 mandates the need to ensure proper ventilation temperature and humidity levels inside the factory premise. The section also requires the occupier to make provisions for reducing excess heat. 

Section 14 states the need to ensure effective measures to prevent inhalation or accumulation of dust & fumes generated during the manufacturing process.  

Section 16 to avoid overcrowding within the factory premise, the Act states that at least 14.2 cubic metres space per worker should be allowed. 

Section 17 requires provision of sufficient and suitable lighting in every part of the factor. Formation of shadows leading to eye-strain or the risk of accident to any worker shall be prevented. 

Section 18 outlines the need to ensure provision of wholesome drinking water. The section also mandates provision of cold water facility if there are more than 250 workers employed. 

Section 19 mandates provision of separate latrines and urinal facility for  

Section 21 mandates fencing of dangerous parts of all machinery. 

Section 22 mandates regular examination of machinery in motion only by a trained adult male wearing tight clothing. 

Section 23 prohibits the employer to appoint any young person to work on dangerous machines (unless he has been trained and is under supervision). The Act considers a ‘young person’ to fall within the age bracket of 14-18 years.  

Section 27 prohibits the employer to appoint women or children to work on cotton openers.  

Section 28 mandates proper upkeep of lifts and hoists that exist within the premise. Maximum load to be carried at any given time in these lifts/hoists must be clearly mentioned.  

Section 32 states that all floors, stairs, steps, passages and gangways should be of sound construction and properly maintained.  

Section 36 states that an employer is prohibited to employ workers in places where dangerous gas/ fume is present. Proper measures to be taken for removal of such hazardous gases.  

Section 38 enlists all practicable measures that should be taken to prevent outbreak of fire and its spread, both internally and externally, and to provide and maintain safe means of escape for all persons in the event of a fire, and the necessary equipment and facilities for extinguishing fire. 

Section 40B states that there needs to be Safety Officers in every factory wherein one thousand or more workers are ordinarily employed. 

Section 41C states that every occupier of a factory involving any hazardous process shall maintain accurate and up-to-date health records or, medical records, of the workers in the factory who are exposed to any chemical, toxic or any other harmful substances which are manufactured, stored, handled or transported and such records shall be accessible to the workers. 

Section 42 mandates provision of properly screened washing facilities for the workers – separate for male and female 

Section 44 mandates provision of suitable seating arrangements 

Section 45 states that in every factory, there should be at least 1 first aid box for every 150 workers. First-aid boxes should have the prescribed contents and should to be accessible to all workers. The Act also mandates development of an ambulance room if the number of workers is more than 500.  

Section 47 states the need to provide proper shelter, rest room and lunch room facilities if the number of workers in more than 150 at any given time.  

Section 48 mandates the provision of creches when the number of women workers is more than 30. The creches must be well lit, well ventilated and to be under the charge of trained women.  

Section 51 states that working hours should not be more than 48 hours a week. In addition, section 52 mandates declaration of first day of the week i.e. Sunday as a weekly holiday. 

Section 53 outlines provision of compensatory holidays whenever a weekly holiday is denied. 

Section 54 states that no adult worker shall be allowed to work in a factory for more than nine hours on any given day. 

Section 55 states that no worker shall work for more than 5 hours before he/she have had a rest interval of at least half an hour.  

Section 57 states that if shift extends beyond midnight, a holiday (full day consisting of 24 hrs) will be awarded, beginning when the worker’s shift ends. 

Section 59 mandates payment of extra wages against overtime i.e. if a worker works for more than 9 hours a day or more than 48 hours a week. The extra wages should be paid twice the ordinary rate. 

Section 62 and 63, requires a factory manager to maintain a register of adult workers including his/her name, nature of work, etc. The Inspector should have access to this register at all time during working hours. 

Section 67 states that no child who has not completed his fourteenth year shall be required or allowed to work in any factory. 

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