This article is written by Michael Shriney from the Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology. This article discusses the Factories Act of 1948. The Act defines various terms and definitions used in a factory, as well as the responsibilities of various authorities and penalties for violating the Act.

This article has been published by Sneha Mahawar

Table of Contents

Introduction

The Factories Act of 1948 was enacted to protect the welfare of workers in a factory by regulating employment conditions, working conditions, the working environment, and other welfare requirements of specific industries. The Court held in Ravi Shankar Sharma v. State of Rajasthan (1993) that the Factory Act is social legislation that covers the health, safety, welfare, and other aspects of factory workers. The Factories Act lays out guidelines and safety measures for using machinery, and with its strict compliance, it also provides owners with instructions. When factory workers were taken advantage of and exploited by paying them low wages, the Factories Act was passed. 

A factory is a building or group of buildings where people work with machinery to make goods. The primary goal of the Factories Act is to safeguard employees in a factory from industrial and occupational risks. This Act gives the owner or occupier of a factory a particular responsibility to secure and protect employees from employment in conditions harmful to their health and safety in order to safeguard workers. It is stated in the Act that the purpose of the Factories Act is to amend and consolidate the legal framework governing factory labour. The Bhopal gas tragedy case (1984) raised public awareness of factory pollution and risks, necessitating government action to allow legislation amendments.

The article is described as follows: history, objectives, some key terminology and definitions in their most basic form, application to the Factories Act, penalties for violation of the Act, facilities supplied to employees in a factory, and finally, certain case laws and new amendments to the Act. 

History of Factories Act, 1948

Evolution of factories and industries

The Factory Act has a history that goes back more than a century. Modern industrialization was introduced to India over a century after it began in the United Kingdom. The first cotton textile factory was established in Bombay in 1854. By 1870, a huge number of industries had been constructed in Bombay, Nagpur, Kanpur, and Madras. In Bihar, the first iron and steel works were established in 1873. Jute spinning mills were established at Rishra around 1855. In 1881, Bengal had 5000 power looms in operation. During the 1870s, Bally paper mills were created at Hooghly and many other tanning and leather factories were established in Kanpur, resulting in the development of factory establishments in India. The early employment of women and children, the length of the working hours, and the hazardous and unhygienic working conditions brought issues and crises to India, and due to these scenarios, legislation was established for all factories and industries. The necessity for protective labour legislation to combat working conditions, particularly for women and children, was recognised as early as 1850, but the British government did very little. The Bara Bazar organisation was founded in 1878 by Sasipad Bannerjee to promote the welfare of jute mill employees. There were strikes in 1877 at Nagpur Empress Mill, which are recorded. The production methods were changed throughout the industrial revolution that occurred in England between 1760 and 1820. The development of several mechanical innovations began, such as the steam engine, which gave humans the capability to drive powerful machines.

Factory Act of 1881

In 1875, a committee was established to look into the working conditions of Indian employees working in a factory. The first Factory Act was passed in 1881, under Lord Ripon’s leadership. The Factory Act is a central body of legislation in India. This Act was based on the terms of the Factory Act of Great Britain, which was enacted in 1937. Local governments had the power under the Factory Act of 1881 to enact rules governing the implementation of the Act’s provisions to control the employment of children, the fencing of machinery, the responsibility to notify factory workers when accidents occur, and other occupations in a factory. This Bill (1881) was amended by the Council and passed on the first day of July 1881, after receiving approval from the Viceroy. The Act was immediately codified as the Indian Factories Act of 1881. This Act was applied to the entire of British India. The Act governs the working conditions of the workforce by establishing several laws relevant to workers’ health, safety, working circumstances, and hazardous processes. If any of the Factory Act’s principles are violated, there are various penalty procedures. 

The Factory Act of 1881 included protective labour laws. The Factory Act of 1881 was the result of the efforts of philanthropic individuals, social activists in India, and Lancashire manufacturers in Great Britain. Narayan Meghaji Lokhandey, a follower of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, was the country’s first labour leader. He worked as a storekeeper at a textile mill and spent his whole life advancing the interests of the labour movement. A memorandum signed by 5300 employees was also given by him to the Factory Commission, which was formed in 1884. The Indian government appointed the factory commission in 1890.

Important provisions of the 1881 Act

The important provisions of the 1881 Act are as follows:

  1. Children under the age of seven are not allowed to work, and they cannot work two jobs on the same day. 
  2. The working hours for children were nine hours per day. 
  3. Four holidays must be given to children each month. 
  4. Intervals must be provided to take a rest. 
  5. Care must be taken when handling machinery’s dangerous parts fence.
  6. Accidents in a factory or industry must be reported. 
  7. The Act was applicable to factories with mechanical power and 100 or more employees.

Since the Factory Act of 1881 was not enough and did not cover all aspects of the Act, there was a further amendment to the Act called the Factory Act of 1891.

Factory Act of 1891

Later, in 1885, a Factory Commission was established. In 1891, a Royal Commission on Labour was created, and it was enforced in 1892. The Act was amended, known as the Factories Act of 1891. This amendment Act of 1891 placed certain restrictions on the working hours of the factory.

Important provisions of the 1891 Act

The important provisions of the 1891 Act are as follows:

  • Registration of a factory with 50 or more employees. 
  • Local governments were obliged to report activities that employed even 20 employees in a factory. 
  • The employment of children under the age of nine was prohibited. 
  • In the case of children aged 9 to 14, seven hours of work were given.
  • In the case of women, eleven hours of work were given with a 1.5-hour break per day.
  • Women and children were not permitted to work between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.
  • All employees must be offered weekly holidays.
  • A rest interval of at least 0.5 hours must be provided.
  • Provincial governments are empowered to enact sanitation and comfort rules.

Factory Act of 1948

The Factory (Amendment) Act of 1948 played an effective and more important role in improving India. A five-year plan was developed during the Interim Congress Regime to improve certain labour conditions in India, and it also referred to the Factory Act of 1934, the Great Britain Factory Act, and the most recent ILO Convention in matters of safety, health and welfare, working hours, industrial hygiene, medical examination of young people, and submissions of factory building plans. The first effort at cooperation between the government, employers, and workers with respect to labour took place at the conference in 1942. As a result, after Conference 1942, a Plenary Tripartite Conference and a Standing Labour Committee were established to provide the government with labour-related advice. This led to the submission of legislative measures, including the drafted bill. The factories bill was proposed on January 30, 1948, and it was approved by the Constituent Assembly on August 28, 1948. It also received the Governor-General of India’s approval on September 23, 1948, and it became effective on April 1, 1949.

The Factory Act of 1948 is longer and more exhaustive than the previous amendment, and it primarily focuses on health, safety, the welfare of factory workers, working hours, the minimum age to work, leave with pay, etc. The industry is a consistent and systematic activity that organises commerce. A factory is a place where certain operations take place. The Factories Act of 1948 controls the daily operations that take place in an enterprise. This includes Jammu and Kashmir as well as the whole of India.

The Act was then amended in 1891, 1911, 1922, 1934, 1948, 1976, and 1987. The Factories Act’s exclusive amendment was in 1948. 

Salient features of Factories Act, 1948

The important features of the 1948 Act are as follows:

  • The word “factory” has been expanded by the Factories (Amendment) Act of 1976 to include contract labour when determining whether a factory has a maximum of 10 or 20 employees.
  • The Act increased the minimum age for children to work in workplaces from 12 to 14 and reduced their daily working hours from 5 to 4 and a half.
  • The Act forbids women and children from working in factories from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • The difference between a seasonal and non-seasonal factory has been abolished by the Act.
  • The Act, which has provisions for factory registration and licencing.
  • The state government is required to make sure that all factories are registered and also have valid licences that are renewed from time to time.
  • The Act gives state governments the authority to enact rules and regulations that ask for management and employee association for the benefit of employees.
  • The state government has the authority to apply the Act’s requirements to any establishment, regardless of the number of employees inside and regardless of whether the establishment engages in manufacturing operations.
  • In Rabindra Agarwal v. State of Jharkhand (2010), the Jharkhand High Court held that the Factories Act, special legislation would prevail over the Indian Penal Code

Objectives of Factories Act, 1948

The important objectives of the 1948 Act are as follows:

  • The major goal of the Factories Act of 1948 is to establish adequate safety measures and to enhance the health and welfare of workers employed in a factory. The Act also protects workers from various industrial and occupational hazards.
    • Heath: According to the Act, all factories must be kept clean, and all essential safeguards must be taken to safeguard the health of workers. The factory must have a sufficient drainage system, adequate lighting, ventilation, temperature, etc.  There must be clean water supplies. Separate restrooms and urinals must be built in convenient locations for males and females. These must be freely accessible to employees and kept clean.
    • Safety: The Act requires that machines be properly fenced; that no young adults work on any dangerous machines in enclosed places, and also that appropriate manholes be provided so that employees may escape in an emergency. 
    • Welfare: The Act specifies that appropriate and suitable washing facilities for workers must be provided and maintained in every factory. There must be storage and drying facilities, as well as sitting areas, first-aid equipment, shelters, restrooms and lunch rooms.
  • The Act also imposes some restrictions on the employment of women, small children, and teenagers, such as working hours, intervals, holidays, etc., as well as on annual leave with pay, etc.
    • Working hours: The Act sets working hours for all workers, and no adult worker must be permitted to work in a workplace for more than 48 hours per week. Weekly holidays need to be granted.
  • The Act also imposes specific restrictions on owners, occupiers, or the manufacturer’s head in order to safeguard employees and ensure their health and safety precautions.
  • The Act protects workers from exploitation and improves working conditions and the environment within factory premises.
    • Penalties: The Act also specifies specific rules created with provisions under the Act, and written orders that are violated. It is an offence, and penalties will be imposed, imprisonment for up to a year; a fine of up to one lakh rupees; or both fine and imprisonment.  Any employee who misuses equipment related to the welfare, safety, and health of other employees, or those connected to the performance of his duties, suffers a Rs.500 fine.

Application of the Factories Act,1948

The important applications of the 1948 Act are as follows:

  • The Act also applies to the whole country of India, including Jammu and Kashmir, and covers all manufacturing processes and premises that fall under the definition of a factory as defined in Section 2(m) of the Act. It also applies to factories owned by the central or state governments, as defined in Section 116 of the Act.
  • The Act is applied and limited to factories that use power and employ 10 or more people on any working day in the preceding 12 months.
  • The Act is applied and limited to factories that do not use power and employ 20 or more people on any working day in the preceding 12 months.
  • The Act is also covered under Section 85 of the Factories Act by the state governments or Union Territories.

Definitions under the Factories Act, 1948

The important definitions under the 1948 Act are as follows:

Adult and child: An adult is defined as someone who has attained the age of eighteen, as defined in Section 2(a) of the Act.

A child is someone who has not attained the age of fifteen, as defined in Section 2(c) of the Act.

Adolescent: Adolescent is defined in Section 2(b) of the Act. An adolescent is defined as someone who has attained the age of fifteen but has not yet attained the age of eighteen. 

Calendar year: The calendar year is defined in Section 2(bb) of the Act. A calendar year is a period of twelve months commencing on January 1st of any year. 

Competent person: A competent person is defined in Section 2(ca) of the Act. A competent person is someone or a group of individuals who have been approved by the Chief Inspector to conduct tests, examinations, and inspections that must be conducted in a plant. He/she is someone who has the necessary knowledge and experience to handle the complexity of the issue. 

Hazardous process:  Hazardous process is defined in Section 2(cb) of the Act. A hazardous process is defined as any process or activity related to the industry that requires special care of raw materials that are used in it, intermediate or finished products, by-products, wastes, or effluents that would cause material impairment to the health of those engaged in or connected with it or that result in polluting the environment. 

Machinery: Machinery is defined in Section 2(j) of the Act. The term covers prime movers, transmission machinery, and any other equipment and appliances that produce, transform, transmit, or apply power. 

Power: Power is defined in Section 2(g) of the Act. Power is defined as any type of mechanically transmitted energy that is not created by a human or animal agency.

Week: Week is defined in Section 2(f) of the Act.  A week is defined as a seven-day period beginning at midnight on Saturday night or other nights that have been approved in writing for a specific area by the Chief Inspector of Factories. 

Day: Day is defined in Section 2(e) of the Act. A day is defined as a 24-hour period beginning at midnight.

Young person: Young person is defined in Section 2(d) of the Act. A young person is defined as a child or an adolescent. 

Factory: The definition of a factory is specified in Section 2(m) of the Factories Act 1948. A factory is any premises, where it has certain limits and boundaries-

  • If a manufacturing process is regularly carried out in any portion of the premises with the use of power and with ten or more workers now engaged in such activity or were engaged in such work on any day during the previous twelve months; or
  • If any element of a manufacturing process is performed inside the premises without the use of power and is regularly performed with twenty or more employees working or having worked there on any given day within the previous twelve months.

Manufacturing process: The manufacturing process definition is specified under Section 2(k). The term “manufacturing process” refers to any process for: 

  • Generating, altering, repairing, ornamenting, finishing, packing, oiling, washing, cleaning, demolishing, or otherwise treating or adapting any article or; 
  • A substance in preparation for use, sale, transportation, delivery, or disposal or;
  • Producing, transforming, or transmitting energy or;
  • Creating type for printing, letterpress printing, lithography, bookbinding, or any other similar process or;
  • Constructing, reconstructing, repairing, refitting, finishing, or breaking up ships or vessels, etc. (as defined by the 1976 Amendment Act);
  • Preserving or storing any item in cold storage.

Worker: The worker definition is specified under Section 2(l). A worker is someone who performs any job associated with a manufacturing process, whether they are employed directly or indirectly through an agency, a contractor, or any other means. This helps to maintain any equipment or facilities utilised in the manufacturing process. The worker may be hired with or without the principal employer’s knowledge and with or without compensation. 

Important provisions in the Factories Act, 1948

Getting approval, licencing and registration of factories (Section 6)

  • The state government shall make rules that require formal submission of plans of any category or description of factories, as well as the site on which the factory is located, for construction or extension must be submitted to the chief inspector or the state government.
  • This Section requires the registration and licencing of factories, as well as the payment of fees for such registration and licencing, as well as the renewal of licences.
  • No licence is issued or renewed unless the occupier gives notice to the chief inspector.
  • If the state government refuses to grant permission to the site or construction of a factory, then within 30 days of the refusal, the applicant can appeal to the central government.

Labour and welfare

The word ‘labour welfare’ refers to the services offered to employees within as well as outside the factory, such as canteens, restrooms, recreation areas, housing, and any other amenities that support employee well-being. States that take welfare measures care about the overall well-being and productivity of their workforce. Early on in the industrialization process, social programmes for manufacturing workers did not receive enough priority. In the past, industrial labour conditions in India were terrible. Due to a growth in industrial activity in the latter part of the twenty-first century, several attempts were made to improve the working conditions of the workforce through the recommendations of the Royal Commission.

After gaining knowledge about the deficiencies and limitations of the previous Act, the Factories Act of 1948 was amended. The definition of ‘factory’ was expanded to encompass any industrial facility employing 10 or more people that uses power or any industrial establishment employing more than 20 people that uses no power, which was a significant development. 

Other significant amendments included-

  • Raising the minimum age of children who can work from 12 to 14 years old.
  • Reducing the number of hours a child can work from five to four and a half.
  • Preventing the kids from working between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • The health, safety, and well-being of all types of employees are given particular attention.

Welfare measures

The three main components of welfare measures are occupational health care, appropriate working hours, and appropriate remuneration. It speaks of a person’s complete health, including their physical, mental, moral, and emotional states. The goal of welfare measures is to integrate the socio-psychological demands of the workforce, the particular technological requirements, the organisational structure and procedures, and the current socio-cultural environment. It fosters a culture of work dedication in enterprises and society at large, ensuring increased employee happiness and productivity.

Washing facilities (Section 42)

  • All factories should supply and maintain enough appropriate washing facilities for the use of the employees.
  • For male and female employees, separate, well-screened facilities must be provided; these facilities also need to be easily accessible and maintained clean.
  • The standards for appropriate and suitable facilities for washing must be set by the state government.

Facilities for storing and drying clothing (Section 43)

  • The state government has a specific authority. It specifies that the state government has the authority to give instructions to the manufacturers regarding where to store the worker’s clothing.
  • They can also provide them with instructions on how to dry the workers’ clothes. It refers to the circumstance in which workers are not dressed for work.

Facilities for sitting (Section 44)

  • All factories should provide and maintain seating arrangements in appropriate areas for all workers who are required to work in a standing position in order to take advantage of any chances for rest that may arise throughout the course of the job.
  • According to the chief inspector, workers in any factory involved in a certain manufacturing process or working in a specific room are able to perform their work effectively while seated.

First aid appliance (Section 45)

  • All factories must have first aid kits, appliances, or cupboards stocked with the required supplies during all working hours, and they must be easily accessible for all manufacturing employees to access. Accordingly, there must be more first aid boxes or cupboards than the usual ratio of one for every 150 industrial employees, which must be fewer than that.
  • The first aid box or cupboard should only include the recommended supplies.
  • Throughout the factory’s operating hours, each first aid box or cupboard should be kept under the supervision of a specific person who is accountable for it on a separate basis and must be readily available at all times during the working hours of the factory.

Canteen (Section 46)

  • A canteen must be provided and kept up by the occupier for the benefit of the workers in any specified factory where more than 250 people are usually employed, according to rules that the state government may set.
  • Food must be served, and prices must be established for it.

Shelters, restrooms and lunch rooms (Section 47)

  • Every factory with more than 150 employees must have appropriate and suitable restrooms or shelters and a lunchroom with drinking water where employees can eat food they have brought with them and that is kept for their use. If a lunchroom is available, employees should stop eating in the work area.
  • The shelters or restrooms need to be well-lighted, ventilated, kept clean, cool, and in good condition.
  • The state government sets the standards.

Creches (Section 48)

  • Every factory with more than 30 female employees must have a suitable room for the use of children under the age of six of such women.
  • Such rooms must be well furnished, well-lighted, and ventilated, and they must be kept clean and hygienic. They must also be under the care of women who have received training in child and infant care.
  • In addition, facilities for washing and changing clothes can be made available for the care of the children of female workers.
  • Any factory may be forced to provide free milk, refreshments, or both to such children.
  • Small children can be fed by their mothers in any industry at necessary intervals.

Health

Sections 11-20 of Chapter III of the Act deal with the Health of the Factories Act, 1948.

Cleanliness (Section 11)

Every factory needs to be kept clean and clear of any effluvia from drains, latrines, or other annoyances. In particular: 

  • Dirt must be cleaned daily from floors, benches, staircases, and passages by sweeping or by another method, and it must be properly disposed of.
  • The floor should be disinfectant-washed at least once a week.
  • During the manufacturing process, the floor becomes moist; this must be drained via drainage.

Disposal of wastes and effluents (Section 12)

Every factory has to have a method in place for treating wastes and effluents produced by the manufacturing process they use.

Ventilation and temperature (Section 13)

  • In order to ensure worker comfort and prevent health problems, sufficient ventilation must be created for the circulation of air in a factory, which should be maintained at a specific temperature.
  • Walls and roofing should be made of a material that is intended for a particular temperature that shouldn’t go over as much as possible.
  • Certain precautions must be taken to protect the employees in facilities where the manufacturing process requires extremely high or low temperatures.

Dust and fume (Section 14)

  • Every factory has to have efficient measures to remove or prevent any dust, fumes, or other impurities that might harm or offend the employees employed and cause inhalation and buildup in any workroom.
  • No factory may operate an internal combustion engine unless the exhaust is directed outside, and no other internal combustion engine may be used. Additionally, precautions must be made to avoid the buildup of fumes that might endanger the health of any employees inside the room.

Overcrowding (Section 16)

  • There should be no overcrowding in factories that might harm the health of the workers.
  • All employees must have ample space in a room to work in the building.

Lighting (Section 17)

  • Every area of a factory where employees are employed must have adequate natural, artificial, or both types of lighting installed and maintained.
  • All glass windows and skylights that provide lighting for the workroom in factories must be kept clean on the inside and outside.
  • The production of shadows should not cause eye strain during any manufacturing process, and all factories must have preventative measures that should not cause glare from the source of light or via reflection from a smooth or polished surface.

Drinking (Section 18)

  • All factories must have the appropriate installations in place, and maintain convenient locations with an adequate supply of clean drinking water.
  • The distance between any drinking water and any washing area, urinal, latrine, spittoon, open drain carrying sullage or effluent, or another source of contamination in the factory must be 6 metres unless the chief inspector approves a shorter distance in writing. The labelling must be legible and in a language that workers could understand.
  • In all factories with more than 250 regular employees, there needs to be a suitable method for providing cold drinking water during hot weather.

Latrines and urinals (Section 19)

  • All factories should have enough restrooms, and urinal accommodations of the required types must be offered in a location that is convenient and always accessible to workers.
  • Male and female employees must have separate enclosed rooms.
  • These locations must be thoroughly cleaned, kept in a hygienic state, and have sufficient lighting and ventilation.
  • Sweepers must be used to maintain latrines, urinals, and washing facilities clean.

Spittoons (Section 20)

  • All factories must have spittoons in easily accessible locations, and they must be kept clean and hygienic.
  • The state government specifies the number of spittoons that must be given, their placement in any factory, as well as their maintenance in a clean and hygienic manner.
  • Except for spittoons designed, for this reason, no one should spit within the premises of a factory. A notice must be posted if any violations occur, with a fine of five rupees.

Safety

Safety is covered in Chapter IV of the Act and is covered in Sections 21–41 of the Factories Act, 1948.

  • Employment of young persons on dangerous machines (Section 23): 

No young person is permitted to operate dangerous machines unless he has been adequately taught the hazards associated with the machine and the measures to be taken, and has received suitable training in working at the machine or adequate supervision by a person who has complete knowledge and experience of the equipment.

  • Prohibition of employment of women and children near cotton openers (Section 27): 

Women and children are not permitted to work in any area of a cotton pressing facility while a cotton opener is in operation. Women and children may be employed on the side of the partition where the feed-end is located if the inspector so specifies.

  • Hoists and lifts (Section 28):
    • Every hoist and lift must be of strong mechanical structure, enough strength, and sound material. They also need to be regularly maintained, completely checked by a qualified person at least once every six months, and a register kept for the mandatory exams.
    • A cage that is properly designed and installed must enclose all hoist and lift ways to prevent people from being trapped between any of the equipment.
    • No larger load should be carried; the maximum safe operating load must be marked on the hoist or lift.
    • Every hoist or lift gate must have interlocking or another effective system installed to prevent the gate from opening except during landing.
  • Protection of eyes (Section 35):

The state government may require effective screens or appropriate goggles to be provided for the protection of persons employed or in the vicinity of the process during any manufacturing process carried out in any factory that involves risk to the eyes due to exposure to excessive light or injury to the eyes from particles or fragments thrown off during the process.

  • Precautions against dangerous fumes, gases etc (Section 36):

No person shall be required or permitted to enter any chamber, tank, vat, pit, pipe, flue, or other confined space in any factory where any gas, fume, vapour, or dust is present to such a degree as to involve risk to persons being overcome, unless such chamber, tank, vat, pit, pipe, flue, or other confined space is provided with an adequate manhole or other effective means of egress.

  • Explosive or inflammable dust, gas etc (Section 37):
    • Any factory involved in manufacturing processes that produce dust, gas, fume, or vapour of a nature that could explode on ignition must take all reasonably practicable precautions to prevent any explosion through
    • The effective enclosure of the plant or machinery.
    • The removal or prevention of the accumulation of such dust, gas, fume, or vapour, etc., or
    • Otherwise by the exclusion or effective enclosure of all potential ignition sources.
  • Precautions in case of fire (Section 38):
    • In order to protect and maintain safety to allow people to escape in the case of fire, all factories should have precautionary measures in place to avoid the breakout and spread of fire, both internally and externally. The required tools and facilities for extinguishing the fire must also be made accessible.
    • All factory employees who are familiar with fire escape routes and have received sufficient training on the procedure to be followed in such circumstances must have access to appropriate measures.

Penalties of the Factories Act, 1948

In Chapter X of the Act, the penalties of the Factories Act of 1948 are covered. There are 9 Sections, from Section 92 to Section 99, that deal with penalties in certain situations. Anyone who breaches the Act or the rules established by the Act or by law is subjected to the penalty.

General Penalty for offences

Section 92 of the Factories Act, 1948 defines the general penalties for offences: 

  • If there is any infringement of the Act’s laws, the occupier and manager of the factory will be held responsible and equally liable for breaching the law. They will both face two years in imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs.2 lakhs. 
  • If they continue to commit the same offence, they will be fined Rs.10,000 every day for continued violations.

Liability of an owner of factory premises

Section 93 of the Factories Act, 1948 defines the liability of an owner of premises under special circumstances.

  • When a factory is leased to several occupiers or lessees or leaseholders, the factory’s owner is still held liable for supplying and maintaining certain services such as drainage, approach roads, water supply, power, lighting, sanitation, and so on. 
  • The chief inspector has the authority to issue an order to the owner of the premises in order to enforce the requirements.

The penalty is enhanced even after a previous conviction

Section 94 of the Factories Act, 1948 defines a penalty that is enhanced even after a previous conviction.

  • First, a person who commits a general offence in a factory and does it again faces a penalty of up to three years in jail or a fine of at least Rs. 10,000, or both.
  • Second, the managers must count the offences committed during the previous two years of the most recent offence to determine the application of this Section.

The penalty for obstructing an inspector

Section 95 of the Factories Act, 1948 defines a penalty for obstructing an inspector.

  • Any person who stops an inspector from using any powers given to him or under the Act, or if an individual fails to appear when requested by an inspector, may be made responsible and subject to a punishment of up to six months imprisonment, a fine of up to ten thousand rupees, or both.
  • This Section is also applicable when anyone stops a worker from coming before or being inspected by an inspector in a factory.

Penalty for wrongfully disclosing results of analysis

Section 96 of the Factories Act, 1948 defines a penalty for wrongfully disclosing the results of analysis under Section 91 of the Factories Act, 1948.

  • Any individual who publishes or discloses to another person the results of an analysis that is performed using samples is punishable by up to six months imprisonment. He will be liable for at least an Rs. 10,000 fine.

Penalty for the contravention of certain provisions

Section 96A of the Factories Act, 1948 defines the penalty for the contravention of certain provisions, such as Sections 41B, 41C, and 41H.

  • Anyone who disobeys or violates any of the rules or the provisions of Sections 41B, 41C, or 41H will be sentenced to 7 years in prison and a fine of Rs. 2,00,000. If the offender continues to commit the same offence, he will also be fined Rs. 5,000 every day after the conviction of the same offence.
  • If the failure or violation persists more than a year after the conviction, the offender will face a 10-year jail sentence.

Worker’s offences

Section 97 of the Factories Act, 1948 defines worker’s offences.

  • If any worker in the factory breaches the Act’s rules or provisions, causing liabilities for other workers, he or she will be fined at least Rs. 500.
  • When a worker is found guilty of a punishable offence, the owner or manager of the factory is not held responsible for the violation unless it can be proven that he failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent it.

False certificate of fitness

Section 98 of the Factories Act, 1948 defines a false certificate of fitness.

  • A fitness certificate details a person’s level of fitness for a certain job or work. This certificate is important in factories. A person who obtains a false certificate of fitness faces a minimum fine of Rs. 10,000 or a 2-month sentence in jail. He may occasionally face fines and jail terms as punishment.

Double Employment of Child

Section 99 of the Factories Act, 1948 defines the double employment of children.

  • If a child works in a factory on a day when they have already worked in another factory, their parents, guardians, or anyone else who benefits from the wages of the child faces a fine of Rs. 1000 unless the court finds that the child worked without the parents or guardian’s consent.
Offence Penalties 
Any worker in a factory who contravenes the provisions of the Act or Rules.Section 92 penalises him/her for 2 years of imprisonment or a fine of Rs.1,00,000 or both.
A continuation of contravention.Section 92 penalises him/her with a fine of Rs.1000 per day.
On contravention of Chapter IV pertaining to safety or dangerous operations.Not less than Rs.25,000 in case of death.Not less than Rs.5,000 in case of serious injuries.
Subsequent contravention of some provisions.Section 94 deals with imprisonment up to 3 years or a fine of not less than Rs.10,000 which may extend to Rs.2,00,000.
Obstructing inspectorsSection 95 deals with imprisonment up to 6 months or a fine up to Rs.10,000 or both.
Wrongful disclosing results pertaining to the results of the analysis.Section 96 deals with imprisonment of 6 months or a fine of up to Rs.10,000 or both.
For contravention of the provisions of Sections 41B, 41C and 41H pertaining to compulsory disclosure of information by occupier, specific responsibility of occupier or right of workers to work imminent danger.Section 96A deals with penalties of-Imprisonment up to 7 years with a fine up to Rs.2,00,000 and on continuation fine of Rs.4000 per day. Imprisonment for 10 years when contravention continues for one year.

Duties of various authorities under the Factories Act 

Duties of occupier

Notice given by occupier (Section 7)

  • According to Section 7 of the Act, the occupier is required to send notice to the chief inspector of everything that is stated in this Section.
  • According to Section 7(1), the occupier must give the chief inspector a written notice at least fifteen days before occupying or using any factory premises.
  • The notice should include the following information: 
    • the name and location of the factory; 
    • the occupier’s name and address; 
    • the owner’s name and address of the property or building (including its establishments) mentioned in Section 93; and 
    • the address to which communications pertaining to the factory may be sent;
    • the nature of the manufacturing process- 
      • carried out in the factory over the last 12 months in the case of factories that exist on the date of the Act’s commencement; 
      • carried out in the factory during the next 12 months in the case of all factories;
    • the name of the factory manager for the purposes of this Act;
    • the number of workers who are presently employed there and have already been employed in the factory from the date this Act was enacted;
    • the average number of workers per day employed over the previous 12 months;
  • When a new manager is appointed, the occupier must give written notice to the inspector and a copy to the chief inspector within seven days of the day, such person takes over in charge.
  • During any period when no one has been appointed as manager in the factory or when the appointed person is not managing the factory, or if no one is found, the occupier must be the factory’s manager.

General duties of the occupier (Section 7A)

  • Every occupier is responsible for the welfare, health, and safety of every worker while they are in the factory.
  • He is responsible for ensuring that the factory’s equipment is maintained in a way that is safe and poses no health hazards.
  • When utilising, handling, storing, and transporting items and chemicals, the factory’s arrangement needs to be examined to ensure safety and the absence of health dangers.
  • In order to ensure the health and safety of all employees while they are at work, he must examine the information, teaching, training, and monitoring requirements.
  • He is responsible for inspecting or supervising the maintenance of a working environment that is secure, free from health risks, and equipped with the necessary facilities and arrangements to ensure the welfare of the employees while they are at work.
  • He is required to inspect the maintenance of all work areas in the factory in a manner that is secure and free from any danger to health, as well as the maintenance of methods of access and egress; such locations must be safe and free from such risks.

Duties of manufacturers

General duties of manufacturers (Section 7B)

  • This Section states that anyone who deals with designing, manufacturing, importing, or supplying any article to use in any factory must make sure, to the extent that it is reasonably practicable, that the article is constructed so that it is safe and without risks to the health of all workers when used properly; 
  • He must also carry out and arrange for tests and examinations to ensure effective implementation;
  • He must take action to guarantee that there is sufficient information regarding the product’s usage in factories, the uses for which it was intended and tested, and the requirements that must be met to ensure that the article is used in a way that is safe and does not endanger the health of the employees;
  • It must be provided that when an article is developed or made outside India, the importer must inspect the article to ensure that it conforms to the same standards as if it were manufactured in India, or if the standards set in the country outside for the production of such article are higher than the standards adopted in India, the article must conform to much higher requirements.
  • Anyone who designs or produces a product for use in a factory is allowed to do, or arrange for the conduct of, any required research in order to determine to the extent that is reasonably possible, the removal or minimization of any hazards to the health or safety of the employees.
  • An article that is mentioned in this provision includes plant and machinery.

Case laws

Shankar Balaji Waje v. State of Maharashtra, (1961)

Facts of the case

In this case, the appellant was the proprietor of a business that produced bidis. In the factory, the petitioner and the other workers used tobacco and leave provided by the factory to roll bidis. There was no agreement or contract between the owner and the petitioner. He was not required to work in the factory for specific hours or days. He could enter or leave the factory as he wished. He is allowed to take a day off work at any time, and with the owner’s consent, he is also allowed to take a 10-day leave of absence. He wasn’t asked to roll bidis in the factory, but with the owner’s permission, he may take them home to roll bidis that were given to him. There was neither actual supervision of the work he did in the factory nor a master-servant relationship between the petitioner and the appellant. There was no minimum production requirement, and he received fixed rates based on the number of bidis, or piece prices for rolling bidis.

Issues involved

The issue involved was whether the petitioner complied with the definition of a worker under the Factories Act of 1948 or not.

Judgement of the case

In accordance with Section 2(l) of the Factories Act of 1948, the petitioner is not a worker.

Shri Suresh Kumar Jalan & Ors v. State of Bihar, (2011)

Facts of the case

In this case, the petitioners were the directors of a factory called Carbon Resources Private Limited, where a factory inspector investigated the premises and discovered numerous violations of the Factory Act. The inspector filed a prosecution report against the petitioners, who were factory directors. Under Section 92 of the Factories Act, the Chief Judicial Magistrate took charge of the offence. The petitioners filed an appeal with the High Court of Patna to quash the order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate.

Issues involved

The issue involved was whether the petitioner’s appeal with the High Court of Patna to quash the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s judgement under Section 92 of the Factories Act had merit or not.

Judgement of the case

The petitioner’s counsel was providing evidence to show that, according to Section 92 of the Factories Act, only the manager or occupier can be held responsible for violations committed in the factory. However, based on the judgement rendered by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, directors of the factory cannot be penalised under Section 92 of the Factories Act. The Chief Judicial Magistrate’s order was quashed by the High Court of Patna because directors cannot be penalised under Section 92 of the Act. It was noted from this case that directors cannot be held responsible for the Act’s violations; only the manager or occupier is responsible.

P.Trivikrama Prasad v. The State of AP by its Assistant Inspector of Factories, (2016)

Facts of the case

In this case, the deputy chief inspector of factories filed a private complaint against the petitioner for violations of Section 32(a) and Section 41 of the Factories Act, which are punishable under Section 92 of the Act. The petitioner failed to provide D-rings to the cane trally side plate to support the employees as they would safely get down from the trolley once the crane loading was complete. They also failed to provide ladders and helmets, which resulted in some unskilled workers getting hit while working and causing them to die. Since no helmet, d-rings, or ladders were provided, the occupier/managing director of the entity or the manager (i.e., the petitioner) was made responsible. Then the petitioner filed a criminal petition against the factory inspector.

Issues involved

The issue involved was whether the criminal petition filed against the accused would be rejected or allowed to proceed.

Judgement of the case

The Hyderabad High Court held that the occupier or managing director (petitioner), who neglects to provide d-rings, ladders, and helmets to the employees for their safety and fails to teach them during hazardous times, is at fault. Therefore, the criminal petition brought against the respondent is dismissed and quashed. As a result, the petitioner is responsible for his ignorance and failure to maintain the factory properly.

New Amendments of Factories Act

Amendment (1954)

When the Indian government accepted the ILO conventions prohibiting the employment of women and children in factories at night. Sections 66, 70, and 71 of the Factories Act of 1948 were amended in order to indicate this ratification. The other provisions were amended at the same time. Therefore, on December 25, 1954, the Factories (Amendment) Act, 1954 became effective and made the following significant changes:

  • Amendment to Section 4.
  • The amendment to the definition of the manufacturing process includes type composing for printing.
  • Women and young people were prohibited from cleaning, lubricating, and operating motion machinery.
  • Encasement of machinery.
  • The safety criteria for lifting equipment were explicitly stated in an amendment to Section 29. 
  • The employees may work for 6 straight hours without being required to take a rest during a 6-hour shift. 
  • Shift workers are free from overtime duties if a shift worker arrives late. 
  • Amending Chapter VIII on leave with pay to fix 240 days of attendance and increase the limit on carried forward leaves, etc. 
  • Section 93 has been rewritten to explain the responsibilities of the owner and occupier.

Amendment (1976)

After the amendments of 1948 and 1954, there was a continuation of industrial growth and a need for safety officers to advise management on concerns about industrial safety and health. The Factories (Amendment) Act 1976 was passed and came into effect on October 26, 1976, as a result of numerous judgments concerning the definition of a worker; a tendency to not include contract labour from that definition but there must be proof of master and servant relationship; and a need for amendments to many other provisions, including the penal Section.

  • The definition was amended to the terms manufacturing process, employee, factory, and occupier. The term “worker” also covered contract labour.
  • There must be an approved plan and permission for the site. 
  • There are amendments to the following provisions:
    • Section 8 deals with inspectors.
    • Section 10 deals with certifying surgeons.
    • Section 11 deals with cleanliness.
    • Section 12 deals with the disposal of waste and effluents.
    • Section 21 deals with the fencing of machinery.
    • Section 22 deals with work on or near machinery in motion.
    • Section 24 deals with striking gear and devices for cutting off power.
    • Section 31 deals with pressure plants.
    • Section 32 deals with floors, stairs, and means of access.
    • Section 36 deals with precautions against dangerous fumes.
    • Section 38 deals with precautions in case of fire.
    • Section 39 deals with specifications of defective parts.
    • Section 40 deals with the safety of buildings and machinery.
    • Section 45 deals with first aid devices.
    • Section 48 deals with creches.
    • Section 56 deals with spread over.
    • Section 59 deals with overtime wages.
    • Section 73 deals with the register of child workers.
    • Section 79 deals with taking leave with wages.
    • Section 87 deals with dangerous operations.
    • Section 88 deals with notices of accidents.
    • Section 92 deals with penalties for offences.
    • Section 101 deals with the determination of the occupier in certain cases.
    • Section 106 deals with the limitation of prosecutions and various other amendments etc.
  • Section 36A for the use of portable power lights, Section 40B for safety officials, Section 88A involves the notice of dangerous occurrences, and Section 91A regarding safety and health surveys were included as new provisions in this Amendment of 1976.
  • A new Section 40A was added, giving the authority to order the implementation of measures recommended by the Inspector for building maintenance, while Section 40B required the requirement of safety officers for firms employing 1000 or more workers.

Amendment (1987)

The Bhopal accident increased safety awareness on a worldwide level and compelled governments to impose stricter regulations on worker and public health and safety. As a result, both the central government and the state governments amended their laws and regulations as needed. On May 23, 1987, two new laws were passed: the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986 and the Factories (Amendment) Act of 1987. These laws included a new chapter IV A on hazardous procedures, numerous restrictions, and harsh fines and imprisonments for violations.

Registers required to be maintained under the Factories Act, 1948

Form 6Register of hygrometre (Humidity register)
Form 7Register of white-washing
Form 7ARegister of tight clothes provided
Form 9Register of compensatory holidays
Form 10Register of overtime for exempted workers
Form 12Register of adult workers
Form 14Register of child labour
Form 15Register of leave with wages
Form 24 & 25Muster Roll-9
Form 26Register of accident & dangerous occurrence

Acts to be done or maintained

Form 3Change of name of manager/ occupier as and when required
Form 2 Renewal of annual fees to reach to the prescribed office
Form 8Report of examination of vessels
Form 11Notice of periods of work for adult workers
Form 13Notice of periods of work for child labour
Form 18Notice of accidents and dangerous occurrences to be submitted within 24 hours by registered post.
Form 18ANotice of accident and dangerous occurrence not resulting in bodily injury.
Form 19Notice of accident and dangerous occurrence (poisoning or disease)
Form 21Annual return ending 31st December
Form 22Half-yearly return by 30th June.
Form 31Accident annual return by 1st week of February-Rule 107(4)
Form 34Monthly return only for hazardous happenings
Form 37Report of the hoist of lifts

Conclusion

In India, the Factories Act of 1948 is applied with appropriate amendments. Certain changes have been made in order to comply. All manufacturing employees are protected by the Act, but young and female workers are particularly well-protected. The Act provides certain facilities in the factory, and anyone who breaches the Act or the Rules will be subject to specific penalties. The inspector, who is chosen by the state and central governments, will conduct the inspection of the factory. The Factories Act, which benefits the factory, its employees, occupiers, and owners, has been in effect for around 37 years. As a result of the Act, their working and employment conditions have gradually improved. The Act outlines the time that employees work, their working hours, paid time off, paid overtime, their age restriction, etc. Additionally, it details how the environment, human health, and safety are protected at the factory. When it comes to occupier and manager responsibilities under the Factories Act of 1948, the government is actively working to update the Act and provide effective measures. In order to ensure the workers’ welfare, health, and safety, the employer and manager play an important role. They act as the industry’s controller. The Act’s provisions must be understood by the employees and their other representatives in order to protect their rights independently and make a defaulting employer aware of his legal responsibilities.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

To whom does the Factories Act apply?

The Factories Act is applicable across India, but only to factories with ten or more employees with power and twenty or more employees without power. Section 85 of the Act, applies to factories with fewer employees.

What is covered by the Factory Act?

The Factory Act covers the duty of the employer to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the employees.

What is the maximum limit that is allowed for lifting, carrying, or moving objects with the head or by hand? 

No adult male or adult woman should lift, carry, move by hand, or use a tool that exceeds the maximum limit recommended, i.e., 75 kg for men and 30 kg for women, and no adolescent male or teenage female should lift, carry, move by hand, or use a head-mounted device that exceeds the maximum limit prescribed, i.e., 30 kg for males and 20 kg for females.

References 


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