Fostering healthy technologists

Employees of IT/ITeS firms experience various occupational health hazards. Here is how the government and industry can mitigate them.

Manufacturing units (aka factories) come under the purview of various chapters and sections of the Factories Act, 1948 which provides detailed regulations concerning health, disposal of waste and effluents, lighting, drinking water, safety and other aspects relevant to working conditions. The legislation also governs working hours, rests, overtime for extra hours, the welfare officer et al. And the responsibility for compliance is on the ‘Occupier’ who should be a director of the company and the factory manager.

While the above provisions are grossly inadequate even for today’s manufacturing industries, they barely cover the conditions prevailing in Information Technology (IT) and Information Technology Enabled Services (ITeS) firms. Hence, it is heartening to note that the Government of Karnataka has directed IT/ITeS firms to submit draft standing orders for certification. In this context, the government must urgently address issues of health, safety and welfare applicable to these organizations.

Ground Realities
There are no mandatory standards for heating or air conditioning in workplaces particularly for software, BPO and KPO based establishments or IT/ITeS companies. Many employees in this industry suffer from chronic disorders such as respiratory infections like blocked nose, coughing and sore throat; gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhoea and nausea; apart from headaches, muscular discomfort, shortness of breath, etc. owing to inappropriate air conditioning, lack of fresh air and improper air circulation. The air ducts and cooling systems are not cleaned and result in accumulation of bacteria which are inhaled by the employees.

Poor air conditioning also has serious health effects like viral and bacterial illnesses such as fever, chills and vomiting leading to influenza, bronchitis and Legionnaire’s Disease and allergic reactions like itchy nose, watery eyes and shortness of breath causing sinusitis, asthma and humidifier fever. Apart from affecting productivity and efficiency, these ailments impair the health and quality of life of the work force. Employees in these firms who are affected by an inappropriate working environment have a case for class action for compensation for injury to health.

Being among the states with many IT firms, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh should take the lead in addressing these issues. The companies should proactively monitor their own work environment and set benchmarks with reference to international standards. NASSCOM should also tackle these matters without delay. Further, independent consultancy organizations should perform quality audits, certify workplace conditions and recommend corrective actions. Such initiatives will enhance the workplace conditions of IT professionals greatly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

Cost concerns limit impact of PM Ujjwala Yojana among poor in cities

Women in low income urban communities share why they haven't been able to switch to clean cooking fuel, despite the hype around Ujjwala.

Chanda Pravin Katkari, who lives in Panvel on the outskirts of Mumbai, applied for a free LPG connection under the PM Ujjwala Yojana one-and-half years ago, but has yet to get a response. She still uses the traditional chulha, most of the time. Chanda and her sister-in-law share the cost and occasionally use their mother-in-law’s Ujjwala LPG cylinder though. “The cylinder lasts only one-and-half months if the three of us, living in separate households, use it regularly. Since we can’t afford this, we use it sparingly so that it lasts us about three months,” she says. Chanda’s experience outlines the…

Similar Story

Bengalureans’ tax outlay: Discover the amount you contribute

Busting the myth of the oft repeated notion that "only 3% of Indians are paying tax". The actual tax outlay is 60% - 70%.

As per a recent report, it was estimated that in 2021-22, only 3% of the population of India pays up to 10 lakh in taxes, alluding that the rest are dependent on this. This begs the following questions: Are you employed? Do you have a regular source of income? Do you pay income tax? Do you purchase provisions, clothing, household goods, eyewear, footwear, fashion accessories, vehicles, furniture, or services such as haircuts, or pay rent and EMIs? If you do any of the above, do you notice the GST charges on your purchases, along with other taxes like tolls, fuel…