203 Occupational health in india: present scenario, challenges and way forward

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Health, safety and well-being of the employees is important for country’s development. Of country’s 500 million workers only less than 10% of are covered by some health and safety legislation. Epidemiologists have estimated an annual 36,700 fatalities, 1,83,00,000 injuries and 18,50,000 diseases related to occupational hazard.


Extensive literature review suggests access to occupational health services (OHS) is non-existent for a majority (85%) of Indian workers in unorganised sector. Of the global 1.9 million cases (17%) are contributed by India. The adverse occupational factors cost 2%–14% of the gross national product (GNP). Heavy burden and poor concern for OH disease is reflected in high attack rates foreg: Silicosis, 4.1%–54.6% among miners and Byssinosis, 28%–47% in textile workers.


India has a huge abundance and variability among different occupations. Therefore a standard policy framework regulating OHS is redundant. Additionally there is no formal regulating body and lack of competence-based training and specialist registration. Except few public and private industries occupational safety is usually ignored. Occupational research remains neglected despite the ever growing need for e.g: child labour, vast informal sector; industrial hygiene and OH surveillance.


Its highly pertinent to increases awareness on OSH through appropriate partnerships. The need for best OHS practices, coordinated research and optimal resource allocation to be highlighted through activism and advocacy. Setting up of national task force and a central regulating body is the need of hour.

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