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The Factories Act


The Evolution of Labor Laws: A Deep Dive into The Factories Act and Its Impact on Workers' Rights

Ever since the unions were formed and battles were fought, the worker's rights have been a beacon of hope for those who participated in this struggle for a shared cause. Not only do we read chapters on them in history, but we also realise how labour laws stood as the cornerstone of the worker's rights movement, tracing their origins to the Industrial Revolution, which gave birth to what we call The Factories Act of 1948. This pioneering piece of legislation has been life-changing for workers worldwide, setting the stage for fair working conditions and improved workplace safety.

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The Factories Act of 1948 is a crucial legislation in the arena of industrial safety, health and progress, ensuring the well-being of the workers across various industrial settings. With these guidelines, the Factories Act wishes to safeguard the welfare and safety of employees, with ventilation, lighting, sanitation and accidents. Additionally, the act even focuses on issues, like the minimum age of employment and working hours, by safeguarding the interests of workers. 

Therefore, the Factories Act is not a legal framework; it is a commitment to ensuring the interests and well-being of the people. As a result, it plays an important role in creating a safe and productive working with the progress of industries across the globe. 

Who is a “Worker” and What is a “Factory” according to the Factories Act 1948?

According to the Factories Act 1948, a worker is a person who is employed, directly or by or through any agency (including a contractor) in cleaning any part of the machinery or premises used for a manufacturing process or any other kind of work incidental to or connected with, the manufacturing process. 

Factory, on the other hand, implies any premises where ten or more workers are working on any day of the preceding twelve months and in any part of which a manufacturing process is being carried on with the aid of power. It may also imply that twenty or more workers are working or were working on any day of the preceding twelve months and in any part of which a manufacturing process is carried out without the aid of power.

Key Provisions of the Factories Act

The Factories Act of 1948 is a notable act that recognizes the importance of a healthy workforce for organizational productivity and progress. It sets the stage for a harmonious relationship between employers and employees, fostering a culture of cooperation and mutual trust. Besides, the objectives of the Indian Factories Act revolve around the working conditions, health, safety, and welfare, along with many other special provisions for women, children and employees working in those factories. 

Nonetheless, let us have a look at the Key provisions of the Factories Act-

  • Working hours

As per the provisions of the Factories Act 1948, no adult worker is allowed to work in a factory for more than forty-eight hours in any week. There should be a weekly holiday.

  • Health

As per the act, the factories must maintain cleanliness by daily removal of dirt, weekly floor cleaning and proper drainage. Walls and ceilings must be periodically painted or cleaned. The State Government Can grant exemptions based on operational constraints. Moreover, it also lists the regulations that deal with waste treatment, ventilation, temperature control, and measures to prevent dust inhalation. As a result, inspections and orders can be issued to ensure compliance. 

Adequate arrangements should be made for drinking water, and sufficient latrines and urinals should be provided at convenient and accessible locations that are regularly cleaned.

  • Safety

Suppose an inspector deems any part of a factory, including buildings or machinery, hazardous to human life. In that case, they can issue a written order to the occupier or manager specifying the necessary safety measures.

If, in any case, imminent danger arises, the Inspector must prohibit the area until the proper repairs or alterations have been completed. 

  • Welfare

The Factories Act specifies that regulations mandate adequate washing facilities, separate spaces for male and female workers, and convenient access in factories. State Governments can set standards. Rules may require suitable places for storing and drying clothing. For instance, factories must provide seating arrangements for workers standing, with chief inspector intervention if necessary.

First-aid boxes are also mandatory, and an ambulance room with prescribed equipment is required for factories employing over 500 workers. 

  • Penalties

The provisions under the Factories Act of 1948 specify if an issued order under this act is violated, it will deemed as an offence. The penalties that are imposed are as follows-

  1. Fines which may extend to one lakh rupees
  2. Imprisonment for a term extending to one year 
  3. Both fines and imprisonment 

Ensuring Workplace Safety under the Factories Act

As per the Factories Act of 1948, safety plays a crucial role, as it contributes to the idea of physical threats that might occur accidentally. Therefore, it is mandatory to adhere to the fixed safety measures and comply with them. To know more about it, let us have a closer look- 

Prohibition Near Cotton Openers and Hoists/lifts

  • Women and children are prohibited from working near cotton openers.
  • Hoists and lifts must meet construction maintenance standards and undergo regular examinations. 

Employment of Young Persons on Dangerous Machines

Young persons can work on prescribed machines only if fully instructed and trained under supervision.

Work on or Near Machinery in Motion (Section 22)

  • It is with utmost caution that specially trained adult male workers in undersupplied clothing can examine machinery in motion. 
  • No Woman or young person can clean machinery in motion unless under specific conditions. 
  • State government may prohibit cleaning, lubricating, or adjusting certain machinery parts in motion.

The casing of New Machinery

  • Set screws, bolts and keys by keeping them guarded as well as toothed gearing must be encased in new machinery. 
  • Non-compliant machinery with sales or hires would be punishable.

Penalties for non-compliance with the Factories Act

To penalize or get penalized is not alien to our understanding, be it reading about the players getting forfeited or the laws of the rulebook. Likewise, under the arena of the Factories Act 1948, the managers, offenders or employees are prohibited from performing several acts for which there are penalties. To know these, let us have a close look-

General Penalties

It is specified that if there are any infringements of the provision, which result in a serious accident causing death or bodily injury, the occupier and the manager of the factory shall be guilty of this offence, with no less than (twenty-five thousand rupees) for an accident causing death and (Five thousand rupees) in the case of an accident causing serious bodily injury. 

Offence by Workers

Under section 111, it says- 

  • In the case of the infringement of the provision by the employed workers in the factory seen imposing any duty or liability on workers shall be punishable with a fine extending up (to five hundred rupees). 
  • In the second case, if a worker is convicted of an offence, the occupier or manager of the factory will not be held guilty in respect of that contravention unless they prove that he failed to adopt reasonable measures for their prevention.

Penalty for Double-employment of a Child

If the child is found working in a factory on a day when they have already worked in another factory, the parent, guardian, or person in custody of the child ( or who benefits directly from the wages) will be fined up to 1,000 rupees. However, if it is proven in court that the child worked without the knowledge or consent of the parent, guardian, or a person in custody or control of them, then they will not be fined.

False Certificate of Fitness 

Under the Factories Act 1948, if someone knowingly issues the certificate to himself, under section 70, i.e. a certification granted to another person, or has received it by someone else, then one shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term that may extend to (two months) or the fine which may extend to (one thousand rupees) or with both.

Therefore, such are the penalties for non-compliance with the Factories Act of 1984.


The Factories Act of 1948 stands as a pivotal legislation ensuring worker welfare, safety, and fair working conditions. It covers crucial aspects such as working hours, health, safety and welfare, emphasizing cooperation between employers and employees. Penalties for non-compliance include fines, imprisonment and penalties for offences by employers and workers; in a nutshell, this act underscores the commitment to workplace safety and the well-being of the workers, shaping a harmonious relationship between industry stakeholders.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not corpseed, and have not been evaluated by corpseed for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.


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Hansika Bhardwaj is a versatile writer, editor and poet.  She is a graduate of the University of Delhi with a specialisation in English Literature. As a cherry on the cake, she has worked with various companies dealing with various types o...

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