Occupational Safety and Health Laws
All occupational safety and health issues are legislated in Sri Lanka under the Factories Ordinance 1950 and subsequent amendments in 1976, 1998, 2000 and 2000.
What areas of work in factories and the manufacturing process are addressed by the Factories Ordinance?
- Part I of the Factories Ordinance addresses the Registration of Factories and Approval of Factory Buildings.
- Part II – Health (General Provisions)
- Part III - Safety (General Provisions)
- Part IV – Welfare (General Provisions)
- Part V - Health, Safety and Welfare (Special Provisions and Regulations)
- Part VI – Notification and Investigation of Accidents and Industrial Diseases
- Part VII addresses Employment of Women and Young Persons Hours and holidays
- Part VIII – Special Applications and Extensions (of) Premises in respect of which Owner is Liable
- Part IX – Homework
- Part X – Miscellaneous
- Part XI – Administration
- Part XII – repealed by Amendment No. 12 of 1976
- Part XIII – Supplementary: Offences, Penalties and Legal Proceedings
- Part XIV – Application of Ordinance
- Part XV – Interpretation and General Interpretation.
Part II addresses Health and Hygiene:
- Overcrowding and cubic space per worker
- Number of workers to be posted in each workroom
- Temperature, ventilation and lighting
- Drainage of floors, sanitary conveniences
- Requirement of medical supervision
Part III deals with Safety
- Prime movers, transmission machinery and other machinery
- Provisions for unfenced machinery, construction and maintenance of fencing for such machinery
- Construction and sale of new machinery
- Securing of vessels containing dangerous substances
- The use and maintenance of self-acting machines
- Cleaning of machinery by women and young persons and the training and supervision of young persons working at dangerous machines
- The use of hoists, lifts, chains, ropes and lifting tackle, cranes and other lifting machines
- The construction and maintenance of floors, passages and stairs,
- Safe means of access and safe place of employment,
- Precautions in places where dangerous fumes, etc., are liable to be present or where there is a possible deficiency of oxygen
- Precautions with respect to explosive or inflammable dust, gas, vapour or any other substance
- The safe operation of steam boilers, steam receivers and steam containers
- The safe operation of air receivers
- Precautions to be observed in respect of water sealed gasholders
- Instructions on means of escape in case of fire, safety provisions in case of fire
- Powers of the Commissioner to require special safety arrangements for the prevention of accidents, to make orders as to dangerous conditions and practices, powers to make orders as to safety of factory premises and regulations on the use of other machinery.
Part IV addresses the Welfare of workers:
- Supply of drinking water
- Regulations as to washing facilities, accommodation for clothing, resting facilities for female workers and first aid.
Part V addresses Health, Safety and Welfare:
- The removal of dust fumes
- Precautions where asphyxiant or irritant gases or vapour is used or liable to be present
- The prevention of meals being consumed in areas where dangerous trades are conducted
- The protection of eyes
- Protection from radiation and vibration
- Shuttle threading by mouth suction
- The prohibition of the use of white and yellow sulphur in the manufacture of matches
- The safe use of underground rooms
- The operation of laundries
- Lifting of excess weights
- The prevention of noise and the protection of workers through the provision of suitable ear defenders
- Precautions to be taken in factories where electricity is generated.
Part VIII: Special Applications and Extensions (of) Premises in respect of which Owner is Liable:
- Section 80 (Electrical Stations) addresses the safety needs with regard to any premises where the workers are involved in the management of electrical energy.
Under the same Part VIII Section 81 titled Institutions applies to:
- Any premises that forms part of an institution which is established for charitable or reformatory purposes or for technical or vocational training but is not a factory, and where:
- There is any manual labour in the making, altering, repairing, ornamenting, finishing, washing, cleaning, or adapting for sale, of articles not intended for the use of the institution
Section 82 of the same Part VIII, titled Docks, Wharves, Quays, Warehouses and Ships addresses safety measures in respect of docks, wharfs or quays:
- with respect to steam boilers
- with respect to welfare regulations;
- special regulations for safety and health;
and shall apply to the processes of:
- Loading, unloading or coaling of any ship in any dock, harbour or canal, and to all machinery or plant used in those processes. The word ‘plant’ under this sub-section includes any gangway or ladder used by any person employed to load or unload or coal a ship.
Section 84 titled Building and other Construction Works applies to:
- Building and other construction works undertaken by way of trade or business,
- The purpose of any industrial or commercial undertaking,
- To any line or siding which is used in connection with this undertaking and is not part of a railway or tramway.
Section 86 deals with Lead Processes carried on in places other than factories and states the following provisions:
- The employment of women and young persons in certain processes connected with lead manufacture and in process involving the use of lead compounds;
- Notification to be sent to the Chief Factory Inspecting Engineer, or to the District Factory Inspecting Engineer for the district, of lead poisoning contracted or occurring in factories;
- Powers and duties of Factory Inspecting Engineers
- Offences, penalties and legal proceedings
Part IX addresses Home Work:
Section 87 applies to any place of business which is either sub-contracting manufacturing processes or is involved in the manufacturing process as if it were a factory.
The owner must:
- Keep a register of the names and addresses of all workers either as workmen or contractors
- This register shall be open to an inspection by any Factory Inspecting Engineer, and by any officer duly authorized by the Minister,
How does government ensure that the above-mentioned provisions are followed at the workplaces?
According to Part XI titled Administration, the Commissioner of Labour is the officer in charge of the administration of the Factories Ordinance. He may delegate his duties to officials listed under the Ordinance.
- Under Section 99 an Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Committee consisting of:
- Chief Factory Inspecting Engineer, (Chairman);
- Four other members will be appointed by the Minister, of whom at least one member shall :-
- represent the interests of the occupiers of factories,
- represent the interests of the persons employed in factories, and
- be a specialist in the field of industrial safety and health
By Section 101, the Ordinance empowers The Commissioner, the Chief Factory Inspecting Engineer, and others as per the Section to enter, inspect and examine by day or night any premises, in order to fully implement the law:
- which he has reasonable cause to believe this Ordinance applies;
- which is intended to be used as a factory;
- which is adjacent to any premises where there are stored explosive or inflammable materials or other substances which would expose the persons employed in the premises to risk of injury
- even premises to which this Ordinance does not apply but in which health or welfare facilities are provided by the occupier of any premises
Does the Employer or Government provide any training to the workers regarding workplace health and safety issues?
- Labour Department engineers, specialist doctors and chemists systematically and regularly conduct health and safety training inside factories for workers.
Are there any special provisions on working of women and adolescents in factories?
Part VII of the Factories Ordinance addresses the special provisions in the employment of Women and Young Persons in factories:
- Section 67 addresses:-
- The total hours worked, exclusive of intervals allowed for meals and rest, shall neither exceed nine in any day nor exceed forty-eight in any week;
- The period of employment in the case of young persons who have not attained the age of sixteen:
- Shall not exceed twelve hours in any day and
- Shall not begin earlier than six o’clock in the morning nor end later than six o’clock in the evening,
- In the case of young persons under 18 years, the period of employment shall not end later than eight o’clock in the evening, and on not less than one day in the week, one o’clock in the afternoon.
- A woman or young person shall not be employed continuously for a spell of more than four and a half hours without an interval of at least half an hour for a meal or rest,
- In respect of regular day time workers, one such interval shall be between eleven o’clock in the morning and one o’clock in the afternoon, and where an interval of not less than ten minutes is allowed in the course of a spell, the spell may be increased to five hours.
- Section 67A states that:
- Every woman employed in a factory shall be permitted to work throughout the night.
- Employment of a woman at night, in a factory shall be subject to the following conditions:-
- no woman shall be compelled to work at night against her will
- The Commissioner of Labour must approve the night work by women after 10 p.m.
- No woman who has been employed during the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. shall be employed after 10 p.m. on any day;
- Every woman who works at night shall be paid not less than one and a half times the normal payment received by her;
- Female wardens must be appointed to see the welfare of woman workers, who work at night;
- Every woman worker, working at night shall be provided with rest rooms and refreshments by the employer;
- No woman shall be employed for more than ten days on night work, during any one month
- Section 112 states:
- If a young person is employed in any factory in contravention of the provisions of this Ordinance, the parent of the young person shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding five hundred rupees,
- The Mines (Prohibition of Female Labour Underground) Ordinance prohibits women of any age from performing:
- Any underground work in any mine
- To enter or remain in the underground parts of any mine for work
- This prohibition does not apply to women who are:
- In management positions and do not perform manual work,
- Employed in health and welfare services,
- Spending a period of training underground in the course of their studies,
- Occasionally entering the underground parts of a mine for the purpose of a non-manual occupation
- The general minimum age for employment is 14 years, but in the case of specific occupations and trades, the age limit varies between 16 and 18 years depending on the level of possible hazard to the lives and well being of children
- By Gazette notification, 1695/32 of March 4, 2011, regulations were made by the Minister of Labour to list 51 trades and sections of trades as hazardous to the health, welfare and development of children between the ages of 14 and 18 years.
Is there any data available on occupational accidents in Sri Lanka?
- Administration reports by the Labour Commissioner are published annually and the quarterly published Government Labour Gazette will also carry information of occupational and industrial accidents.