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1719f Occupational health services in india: challenges and opportunities
  1. R Rajesh
  1. Reliance Industries Limited, Mumbai, India


The occupational safety and health (OSH) scenario in India is complex while catering to the needs of 63% productive age group with, 92.38% of this working in the informal economy, predominantly, agriculture and services and facing a triple burden of Non-communicable and Communicable diseases and Violence, Injuries.

No comprehensive legislation for occupational health and safety exists that covers all the economic sectors except for mining, manufacturing, ports, and construction sectors. Factories Act, 1948 has been unable to build up the workers’ rights against occupational diseases and related hazards, with over 90% of Indian labour falling outside its purview. OSH services in informal sector are non-existent and dysfunctional, depriving these workers of basic occupational health care. Further, occupational health is not integrated with primary health care, falling under the Ministry of Labour, and not the Ministry of Health. Newer service industries like Information Technology (IT), Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) are increasing rapidly; so is the proportion of females in the workforce, multiple job changes/insecurity and increasing numbers of migrant workers adding to job-related stress.

Major challenges are:

  1. Lack of National OSH Policy, legislation and mechanisms for provision of Occupational health services for Informal/unorganised sector and SMEs,

  2. Apathy & lack of sensitisation about OSH among stakeholders and stakeholder networks/linkages,

  3. Inadequate OSH infrastructure and OSH professional capacities to manage emerging health risks,

  4. Addressing the NCD burden through Workplace Wellness Movement.

Opportunities are:

  • Utilisation of primary health care ecosystem for delivery of BOHS for informal sector,

  • Accreditation Mechanism under Ministry of Labour,

  • Regulatory framework under Factories’ Act and governance apparatus under National Skills’ Mission to develop requisite OSH human resources,

  • Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives to set up Risk Observatory Mechanisms with multi–sectoral linkages.

  • Non Communicable Disease (NCD)
  • Small and Medium size Enterprises (SMEs)

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