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Occupational Safety and Health Laws in Pakistan

Do you know about your health and safety laws at workplace in Pakistan? Know more about occupational health and safety laws in Pakistan.

What are the laws in Pakistan relating to the issues of occupational safety and health?

There is no independent legislation on occupational safety and health issues in Pakistan. The main law, which governs these issues, is the Chapter 3 of Factories Act, 1934. All the provinces, under this act, have devised Factories Rules. The Hazardous Occupations Rules, 1963 under the authority of Factories Act is another relevant legislation. These rules not only specify some hazardous occupations but also authorize the Chief Inspector of Factories to declare any other process as hazardous.

The other related laws are:

• Dock Laborers Act, 1934
• Mines Act, 1923
• Workmen Compensation Act, 1923
• Provincial Employees Social Security Ordinance, 1965
• West Pakistan Shops and Establishments Ordinance, 1969
• Boilers and Pressure Vessels Ordinance, 2002

Can you please tell about the health and safety provisions under the Factories Act, 1934?

Chapter 3 of the Act has general provisions on health and safety at the workplace. Provincial governments are allowed to make rules under this Act and inspectors under this Act also have discretion in defining the rules. Chapter 3 talks about various safety arrangements. This list is being provided just to show how meticulously labor law covers these issues.

• Cleanliness
• Disposal of wastes and effluents
• Ventilation and temperature
• Dust and fume
• Artificial humidification.
• Overcrowding
• Lighting
• Drinking water
• Latrines and urinals
• Spittoons
• Precautions against contagious or infectious disease
• Compulsory vaccination and inoculation
• Power to make rules for the provision of canteens
• Welfare officer
• Precautions in case of fire
• Fencing of machinery
• Work on or near machinery in motion
• Employment of young persons on dangerous machines
• Striking gear and devices for cutting off power
• Self-acting machines
• Casing of new machinery
• Prohibition of employment of women and children near cotton openers
• Cranes and other lifting machinery
• Hoists and lifts
• Revolving machinery
• Pressure plant
• Floors, stairs and means of access
• Pits, sumps, opening in floors, etc.
• Excessive weights
• Protection of eyes
• Power to require specifications of defective parts or tests of stability
• Safety of building, machinery and manufacturing process
• Precautions against dangerous fumes
• Explosive or inflammable dust, gas, etc.
• Notice of certain accidents

Similarly, Chapter 5 of the Mines Act provides for various health and safety arrangements. You will find similar provisions in the Pakistan Dock Laborers Regulations for dockworkers.

How does government ensure that the above-mentioned provisions are followed at the workplaces?

All the above laws require the appropriate government (Federal or Provincial) to appoint qualified individuals as inspectors. It is the duty of inspectors to enforce these laws. The usual powers of inspectors include the right to enter and inspect any workplace, taking evidence from persons for carrying out their duties. A person can’t be appointed as inspector or continue to hold the office of inspector if he or she becomes directly or indirectly interested in the workplace (it is factory under the Factories Act, a dock or a ship under Dock Laborers Act and a mine under the Mines Act.

Does Employer or Government provide any training to the workers regarding workplace health and safety issues?

Various government agencies like National Institute of Labor Administration and Training, Directorate of Workers Education provide training to workers on these issues. Directorate of Dock Workers Safety (DDWS) and Central Inspectorate of Mines provide training to dock workers and mine workers respectively. The Centre for Improvement of Working Conditions and Environment (CIWCE) is a pioneering institution in Pakistan (working under the Directorate of Labor Welfare, Punjab) which provides training, information and research facilities for promotion of safety, health and better work environment in the industries and businesses. You can also find training materials, safety posters and different safety signs from this Centre. Please follow the link for further details:

Are there any special provisions on working of women and adolescents in factories or mines?

Pakistan has ratified the following two ILO conventions relating to the special treatment for women and adolescents in the occupational safety and health context.

C45 Underground Work (Women) Convention, 1935
C89 Night Work (Women) Convention (Revised), 1948
C90 Night Work of Young Persons (Industry) Convention (Revised), 1948

Article 2 of the C45 requires that no women should be employed in on underground work in any mine. In accordance with the provision of this convention, article 23-C (1) of Mines Act prohibits the employment of women in any underground mine.

As for young persons, who are not seventeen years of age yet, they can’t also be employed in any part of a mine unless they present a certificate of fitness on a prescribed form by a qualified medical practitioner (section 26-A of Mines Act).

Similarly for safety reasons and under the above conventions, labor laws also limit the employment of women and adolescents at night. Section 45 of Factories Act limits the employment of women up to only 07:00 p.m. (or if employer arranges for pick and drop and with employees own accord), a female worker may worker until 10 p.m. Section 54 of the Act requires that children (over the age of 14 years) should not be employed after 07 p.m.

We also find provision on prohibition on employment of children and women in any part of the factory for pressing cotton in which a cotton-opener is at work (section 32). The referred section also talks about certain exemptions from this provision.

Similarly, section 33-M authorizes the provincial government to make rules prohibiting the employment of children (above the age of fourteen) to any specified class of factories or to any specified parts thereof. It also allows a factories inspector, if it appears to him that children can’t be legally employed in a part of the factory or in a factory, he may serve on the factory manager an order to prevent such admission.

Section 28 of the Factories Act also requires that no young person (child or adolescent) shall operate a machine until he has received sufficient training for operating it and is under adequate supervision by some other person with thorough knowledge and experience of machine. Moreover, these requirements should also be met before employing young persons on machines that are notified as dangerous by Provincial governments.

Note: the term young person has been used collectively for children and adolescents. The Employment of Children Act 1991 defines a child as the one who has not completed fourteen years of age while an adolescent is defined as the one whose age is greater than 14 years but less than 18 years.

Is there any data available on occupational accidents in Pakistan?

Pakistan Labor Force Survey collects data on occupational injuries/ accidents in all the parts of country. For further details please see below:

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