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November 24, 2015

Punjab starts digitising inspection data of factories


November 24, 2015

THE Punjab government has started digitising the factories inspection data after the tragic incident of Rajpoot Polyester factory collapse at Sundar Industrial Estate because some of the inspection data forms were missing when the inquiry was initiated into the incident.
The sources said the Lahore District Officer (DO) Labour Syed Hasnat Javed in his initial finding report (Memo No. 2780, Dated: November 5, 2015) underlined, “Apparently the incident appears to be a result of rampant, hasty and illegal expansion undertaken by the management. The record of last inspection of the factory is not available because of the labour officer concerned being out of station and unreachable. As soon as it becomes available, action shall be initiated by this office against the delinquents under the applicable laws.”
However, they said the department had failed to inspect the said factory. “If the said factory’s file has registration form, certificate of registration and other documents submitted at the time of registration. How it is possible that record of last inspection is with the labour officer concerned,” they questioned. They said that initially a Form 'K' (Certificate of Stability) was missing from the record file of the factory which allegedly put in the place in backdates of 2013 to protect some high-ups.
Under the Punjab Factories Rules, 1978, this form ensures building stability for workers safety. This form speaks about the ownership of the building, name of the company, nature of work being carried out, approximate area of the factory building and premises, number of floors on which workers are employed, details and strength of materials used and details of iron work with measurement of spans and loads carried by stanchion and pillars. Form 'K' clearly states that labour officer has carried out a detailed survey of the building and materials and is satisfied that the margin of safety in accordance with the recognised standards

required by the Architects and Builders Association and further that the erection has been carried out in such a way as to give the building reasonable stability and provide the maximum safety in working the machines housed in the buildings. But in case of Rajpoot Polypropylene, source said that neither factory premises was inspected nor Form 'K' was sought. They said that if the building was inspected even once, it should have been sealed as The Factories Act, 1934, empowered the Labour Department to bar factory management from employing workers if it felt any danger.
Chapter III of the Factories Act, Section 33 I (Sub-section 3) states, “If it appears to the Inspector that the use of any building or part of a building or of any part of the ways, machinery or plant or manufacturing process in a factory involves imminent danger to human health or safety he may serve on the manager of factory an order in writing prohibiting, until the danger is removed, the employment, in or about the factory or part thereof, of any person whose employment is not in his opinion reasonably necessary for the purpose of removing the danger.” However, Punjab Secretary Labour Ali Sarfraz Hussain denied the missing of Form 'K' from the record. He said the inspection conducted as per schedules. In order to avoid such controversy, Ali said that the provincial government had decided to use digital and mobile technologies to streamline the inspection procedure. The department engaged the software engineers for designing a mobile application that would help government authorities to keep eye on inspection process. This mobile application will also empower the government to have real-time access to inspection data across Punjab.
The Labour Department already has all registered factories database of the province but the mobile app will further automate the inspection process. It will enable Labour Department to monitor the inspection process in real-time. Once a labour inspector will carry the inspection of any registered industrial unit on mobile app it will directly be added to the data base so that no such missing of data forms or adding a backdated form allegations could be raised on the government, he added.
Other than this, the four weeks time has been given to the Labour Department to complete physical inspection by using the mobile application of all the industrial units in major industrial estates, including Sundar Industrial Estate, Quaid-e-Azam Industrial Estate and
Multan Industrial Estate I & II, of the province. According to the data, Punjab has 16,000 registered industrial units and factories, and over 0.825 million workforce. In the past, the physical inspections of the industrial units were suspended in the province for around 10 years on the pretext of change in inspection regime and allegations of corruption levelled by the industrial units owners on the labour inspectors till 2012.

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