The Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (LJCP) is seeking input from all four provinces on a proposed legislation dealing with occupational safety and health (OSH).
Hearing a suo motu case following the death of labourers in stone-crushing units, the Supreme Court’s Justice Jawwad S Khawaja had directed the commission to frame a draft for OSH.
Named ‘Occupational Safety and Health Bill 2015’, the draft seeks to prevent occupational hazards and to promote a safe and healthy working environment adapted to the physiological and psychological needs of all employees.
The applicant’s counsel, Raheel Kamran Sheikh, told The Express Tribune that the draft had been despatched to the provincial administrations for their input, adding that the apex court would resume hearing of the case on July 16.
Sheikh said the proposed draft would be further improved, adding that they were working on three issues: effectiveness of labour departments, legislation and awareness campaigns.
According to the draft, it shall be the duty of every employer to ensure all possible practicable measures are taken for the safety and health of all employees.
In case of an accident, the employer shall take all practicable steps to ensure that the occurrence is thoroughly investigated.
It is the employer’s duty to inform all the employees about the hazards associated with their work, and in case the hazards cannot be removed, the employer shall provide the employees government-approved protective clothing and equipment.
Each worker shall be provided with a ‘hygiene card’, wherein every January and July a qualified medical practitioner will record entries after examining the employee. About registration of buildings to be used for workplaces, the draft said the employer should first seek approval from the government.
“No local authority shall approve any plan to build, renovate or operate any site or building to be used as a workplace and continue as such unless safety and health provision of this act has been complied with and approval obtained from the government.”
The draft also bars employing children, except when an establishment where such process is carried out with the help of family members and assisted or recognised by the government.
The legislation proposes that the government shall appoint inspectors for the purposes of this act, adding that every inspector appointed shall be furnished with a certificate of appointment, and when visiting workplaces in accordance with this act, he shall, if required, show the certificate to the employer or other people holding a responsible position at the workplace before carrying out inspection.
Any person who wilfully obstructs an inspector in the exercise of any of his lawful powers shall be liable to a fine or period of imprisonment, as prescribed in the schedule.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2015.