Stressed out? Govt steps in

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  • Published 5.02.09

New Delhi, Feb. 5: The Union cabinet today approved a national policy on health, safety and environment at the workplace in what may be India’s first nationwide initiative on issues relating to health, perhaps even stress, on the job.

The policy will provide general guidelines for government departments, employers, educational institutions and inspection authorities to develop a culture of safety and healthy environment at workplaces, home minister P. Chidambaram said.

“The policy seeks to control conventional health hazards at workplaces through suitable education and legislative measures,” a senior official in the industrial safety and health department said.

The policy, yet to be tabled in Parliament, outlines an action programme for the development and promotion of standards and codes of practices for workplaces. It will also provide a statutory framework, a set of financial and non-financial incentives, and prevention strategies and guidelines for monitoring to ensure health and safety in workplaces.

The policy recognises that the influence of stress in many jobs may pose serious safety and health issues. It is aimed at improving the health and well-being of workers and thus increasing productivity.

“The environment in the workplace is important — from the point of view of health, safety and efficiency,” said Sudhir Dave, former director of the National Institute of Occupational Health in Ahmedabad. “The space available at workplaces, the lighting, even noise levels are all important — they can affect health in the long term, but we’ve never given them the importance they deserve,” he told The Telegraph.

“The focus has often been on industries and mines, but some of our government offices could themselves make use of such a policy,” said an occupational health expert.