The Factories Act, 1948 (amended in 1987) was enacted with the object of protecting factory workers from subjecting them to unduly long hours of bodily strain or manual labor. It lays down that employees should work in healthy and sanitary conditions so far as the manufacturing will allow and that precautions should be taken for their safety and for the prevention of accidents.
The Factories Act, however, is applicable only to factories that employ 10 or more workers; it covers only a small proportion of workers.
The Act defines a ‘worker’ as any person employed directly or through any agency (including a contractor), whether for remuneration or not in any manufacturing process or in any work incidental to or connected with the manufacturing process. It is required that work performed should be connected with the product which is produced in the manufacturing process.
This Act is enforced by the State Governments through factory inspectors
The objective of the Factories Act,1948
The main objectives of the Indian Factories Act, 1948are to regulate the working conditions in factories, to regulate health, safety welfare, and annual leave and enact a special provisions in respect of young persons, women, and children who work in the factories.
1. Working Hours:
According to the provision of working hours of adults, no adult worker shall be required or allowed to work in a factory for more than 48 hours in a week. There should be a weekly holiday.
For protecting the health of workers, the Act lays down that every factory shall be kept clean and all necessary precautions shall be taken in this regard. The factories should have a proper drainage system, adequate lighting, ventilation, temperature etc.
Adequate arrangements for drinking water should be made. Sufficient latrines and urinals should be provided at convenient places. These should be easily accessible to workers and must be kept clean.
In order to provide safety to the workers, the Act provides that the machinery should be fenced, no young person shall work at any dangerous machine, in confined spaces, there should be provision for manholes of adequate size so that in case of emergency the workers can escape.
For the welfare of the workers, the Act provides that in every factory adequate and suitable facilities for washing should be provided and maintained for the use of workers.
Facilities for storing and drying clothing, facilities for sitting, first-aid appliances, shelters, rest rooms’ and lunch rooms, crèches, should be there.
The provisions of The Factories Act, 1948, or any rules made under the Act, or any order given in writing under the Act is violated, it is treated as an offence. The following penalties can be imposed:-
(a) Imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year;
(b) Fine which may extend to one lakh rupees; or
(c) Both fine and imprisonment.
If a worker misuses an appliance related to welfare, safety and health of workers, or in relation to discharge of his duties, he can be imposed a penalty of Rs. 500/-.
Applicability of Factories Act, 1948
The Act is applicable to any factory whereon ten or more workers are working or were working on any day of the preceding twelve months, and in any part of which a manufacturing process is being carried on with the aid of power, or is ordinarily so carried on, or whereon twenty or more workers are working or were working on any day of the preceding twelve months, and in any part of which a manufacturing process is being carried on without the aid of power, or is ordinarily so carried on; but this does not include a mine, or a mobile unit belonging to the armed forces of the union, a railway running shed or a hotel, restaurant or eating place.
Importance of Factories Act, 1948
The Factories Act, 1948 is beneficial legislation. The aim and object of the Act is essential to safeguard the interests of workers, stop their exploitation and take care of their safety, hygiene, and welfare at their places of work. It casts various obligations, duties, and responsibilities on the occupier of a factory and also on the factory manager. Amendments to the Act and court decisions have further extended the nature and scope of the concept of the occupier, especially vis-a-vis hazardous processes in factories.