Summary of The Factories Act 1948 - Commentary - Simple language - Explained

The provisions relating to Health, Safety & Welfare are provided here under and the brief commentary to each of the above chapter is given at the end of each chapter respectively.

Important Provisions of the Constitution of India relevant to the Factories Act

The Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy of the Constitution of India are also relevant to the Factories Act as the workers working therein are also the Citizens of India and as such are entitled to those Rights.

Article 14 Dealing with Equality before Law

Article 19 Providing for Protection of Certain Rights regarding Freedom of Speech

Article 23 dealing with Prohibition of Traffic in human beings and forced labour

Article 24 Prohibition of Employment of Children in Factories.

Article 32 Remedies for Enforcement of Rights conferred by this Part of the Constitution of India

Article 39 Certain Principles of Policy to be followed by the State

Article 39-A Equal Justice and Free Legal Aid

Article 42 Provisions for Just and Humane Conditions of work and maternity benefit

Article 43 Living wage, etc. for workers

Article 43-A Participation of Workers in Management and Industries.

Conventions of International Labour Organisation and the Factories Act, 1948

ILO’s Convention No. 29 Relating to Forced Labour

Convention No. 105 Relating to Abolition of Forced Labour

Convention Nos. 3 & 103 Concerning Maternity Protection

Convention No. 183 Concerning Maternity Benefit

Convention Nos. 110, 4, 89 & 45 Dealing with Conditions of Work and Night Work of Women employed in industry

Convention Nos. 5, 10, 33 59, 60, 138 Concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment

Convention Nos. 6, 14, 79 90 Concerning Night Work by Children and Young Persons

Convention No. 146 Concerning Minimum Age, National Policy, Hazardous Employment, Conditions of Work and Enforcement

Convention No. 182 Concerning Worst Forms of Child Labour

Commentary on Chapter III


Section 11: Cleanliness:-

Section 11 requires the employer or occupier of the factory to maintain cleanliness by keeping the factory free from effluvia arising from any drain or other nuisance. Effluvia has not been defined in the Act but it means the disagreeable vapors arising from decaying matter and for this purpose the dirt and refuse arising out of the manufacturing process shall not be allowed to be accumulated and therefore effective methods for sweeping the floors and benches of the workrooms, stair case, passages should be adopted to dispose of such effluvia. The above mentioned premises should be cleared at least once in a week and disinfected whenever necessary. Section 11 makes elaborate provisions for maintaining whole premises including, walls, partition, ceilings, doors and windows to be cleaned and painted or varnished at least once in 5 years. To ensure proper implementation of these provisions, it is also required that the employer shall maintain a register to enter the dates on which such processes have been carried out [Clauses (a) to (e)]. However an alternative provision is also made under sub-section (2) that if, by the very nature of operations carried out in a factory, it is not practicably possible for the employer to comply with the requirements of sub-section (1) above, the State Government may, by order, exempt such factory or part of the factory, from all or any of the provision of sub-section (1) and specify alternative methods for keeping the factory in a clean state. (Sec. 11)

Section 12: Disposal of Waste and Effluents:-

Section 12 requires for treatment for disposal of wastes and effluents due to manufacturing process so as to render it innocuous by making approved method prescribed by the concerned authority. The word ‘innocuous’ is again not defined in the Act but etymologically it means ‘harmless’.

Section 13: Ventilation and Temperature is to be maintained in any work room through adequate ventilation and circulation of air.

The temperature in the work room should be secured to provide comfort to workers and prevent injury to their health. The Chief Inspector of Factories may prescribe proper measuring instruments and suitable measures for maintaining suitable temperature and ventilation in the work room.

Section 14: Dust and Fumes are required to be prevented by suitable measures to give off any dust or fumes likely to be injurious to the workers.

Measures should be taken to prevent inhalation and accumulation of such injurious dust and fumes by providing exhaust appliances. It is further required that no stationary internal combustive engine shall be operated unless the exhaust is conducted into open air.

Section 15: Artificial Humidification is required to be regulated by prescribed standards of humidification and adequate ventilation and cooling the air in the work room.

Section 16: Over-crowding in the work room

should be avoided and sufficient elbow-room should be provided for the workers to work comfortably without congestion. It is required that at least 9.9 cubic metres space should be provided for each worker, if the factory is in existence at the time of commencement of this Act, and a space of at least 4.2 cubic metre per worker should be provided in every factory started after the commencement of the Act.

Section 17: Lighting

should be provided in a suitable manner, by natural or artificial methods or by both. All glazed windows and sky lights should be kept clean and there should not be any glare or reflection from any smooth or polished surface. The lighting should not form shadows so as to cause strain to eyes or cause accident. Section 18: Drinking Water should be made available at all convenient places and all such points shall be legibly marked “drinking water” and no such drinking water should be situated within six metres of any washing place, urinal, latrine, spittoon etc. The water should be wholesome, free from any contamination and during hot weather cool drinking water should be provided to workers.

Section 19: Latrines and Urinals

should be provided at convenient places and then should be separate latrines and urinals for male and female workers. All latrines and urinals should be kept clean and maintain by prescribed sanitary types and rules.

Section 20: spittoons

should be provided at suitable places and sufficient manner. There should be maintained properly and no person shall spit within the premises of the factory except in the spittoons. The provision shall be made for penalty in case of violation of this rule.

Commentary on Chapter IV


Safety of the worker from any injury or occupational disease is the prime purpose to create conducive and safe environment of work. Therefore provisions are made under Sections 21 to 41 of the Factories Act as under-

Section 21: Fencing of Machinery:-

it is laid down that in every factory proper fencing should be provided to every moving part of a prime mover and every flywheel connected to prime mover or engine. Every electric motor, rotary converter, part of transmission and every dangerous part of other machinery should be securely fenced by safeguards to prevent any accident, particularly when such machinery is in motion or use. It may be noted that most of the accidents takes place due to non-compliance of this provision in many cases under the Employee's Compensation Act are arising due to the violation of these security measures.

Section 22: Work on or near machinery in motion:-

Whenever it is necessary to examine any part of machinery, while the machinery is in motion, for the purpose of repair, lubrication or adjusting operation, such examination or operation shall be carried out only by specially trained adult male worker wearing tight fitting clothing and whose name shall be recorded in the prescribed register.

Further during such examination or operation such worker shall not handle a belt at a moving pulley without following the instructions given under clauses (i) to (vii) of this section.

Further no woman or young person shall be allowed to clean or lubricate any prime mover or transmission machinery.

Section 23: Employment of Young Persons on Dangerous Machines:-

This section prohibits the employer from requiring any young person to work at any machine unless he has been fully instructed as to the dangers arising in connection with the machine. Precautions should be observed to ensure that such person has received sufficient training at the machine and that he is working under adequate supervision by a person who has thorough knowledge and experience of the machine.

Section 24: Striking gear and devices for cutting power:-

To avoid or at least to mitigate injury to the persons working at the dangerous machines or prime mover, it is required that the whole process should be provided with suitable striking gear and other mechanical devices to disconnect the power immediately whenever necessary to avoid accident or injury. Similarly when a device, which can be inadvertently shift from ‘off to ‘on’ position is provided in a factory to cut-off power, arrangements shall be made for locking the device in safe position.

Section 25: Self-acting machines:-

Wherever self-acting machines are put in operation at least a distance of space of 45 centimeters should be provided from any fixed structure and no person should be able to pass through near to the machine within the prescribed distance of space.

Section 26: Casing of New Machinery:-

In all machinery driven by power and installed in a factory, every set screw, bolt or key or any revolving shaft, spindle wheel or pinion shall be encased and effectively guarded to prevent danger.

Sections 27 to 41:-

The other Sections from Section 27 to 41 of this Chapter on safety provide for prohibition of employment of women and children near cotton-opener (Section 27) and safety measure for hoists and lifts, lifting machines, revolving machinery, pressure plant, excessive weights, protection of eyes, protection against dangerous fumes, protection from explosive or inflammable dust or gas, precaution in case of fire etc. and ensure safety of the workers.

Commentary on Chapter IVA

Hazardous Processes

A relating to Hazardous Processes is provided by an amendment in the year 1987 making provisions under Sections 41-A to 41-H. It requires that the State Government shall constitute a Site Appraisal Committee for the purpose of advising to consider application for grant of permission to the initial location of a factory involving a hazardous process. It requires compulsory disclosure of information by the occupier of such factory where such hazardous processes is involved, in a manner prescribed for taking measures to overcome such hazards arising from the exposure or handling, transportation, storage or processes, so that they could be checked by Chief Inspector or local authority. It also requires for emergency standards, workers’ participation in safety management.

Section 41-H confers a right on workers to warn about imminent danger and imposes responsibility on the occupier in relation to such hazardous processes. The Central Government may appoint Inquiry Committee in the event of any occurrence of an extraordinary situation involving hazardous process in a factory (Section 41-D). In case the employer fails to provide safety measures as required by this Chapter or such measures are inadequate, the Central Government may direct the Director-General of Factory Advice Service and Labour Institute or any other institute specialised in the matter relating to standards of safety of hazardous process, to lay down emergency standards for enforcement of suitable standards.

Commentary on Chapter V


Chapter V contains provisions for welfare of the workers in the factory and they are incorporated under Sections 42 to 50 of the Factories Act, 1948

Section 42: Washing Facilities:-

It lays down that in every factory adequate and suitable facilities should be provided for washing separately for male and female workers. All such washing facilities shall be easily accessible and kept clean.

Section 43: Facilities for storing and drying clothing require that there should be adequate facilities for keeping clothing not worn during working hours and for the drying of the wet-clothing.

Section 44: Facilities for sitting should be provided particularly where the workers are required to work in standing position, so that they may take advantage of any opportunity for rest which may occur in the course of their work.

Section 45: First-

Aid Appliances should be provided and maintained so as to be readily accessible in case of requirement. The contents of such First Aid Boxes should be maintained properly.

Section 46: Canteen:-

The State Government may make rules that in any specified factory wherein more than 250 workers are ordinarily employed, a canteen shall be provided and maintained by the occupier for the use of workers. The food-stuff, furniture, accommodation and equipment in the canteen shall be of prescribed standard and nature.

Section 47: Shelters, rest-room and lunch room:-

In every factory where more than 150 workers are employed, adequate and suitable shelters or rest-room and lunch rooms should be provided with facility of drinking water. Such rest-room or shelter shall be well ventilated and maintained in a clean condition.

Section 48: Creches:-

It is provided that in every factory where more than 30 women workers are ordinarily employed, there shall be provided a suitable room for the use of children under the age of 6 years of such women. The creches should also be well ventilated and maintained in clean conditions. The furniture, construction and accommodation should be as per prescribed rules. Additionally provision shall be made for the care of children belonging to women workers along with the facility for changing and washing the clothing of such children. Section 49: Welfare Officers:- In every factory when 500 or more number of workers are employed, the occupier shall employ in the factory such number of Welfare Officers as may be prescribed. The State Government may prescribe their qualifications and duties.