The Mines Act, 1952
The Mines Act, 1952, aims to consolidate the law relating to the regulation of labour and safety in mines. This Act, which Parliament passed on December 31, 1953, extends to the whole of India.
What is a mine?
The Act defines a mine as any excavation where an operation that involves searching for or obtaining minerals has been, or is being, carried out. Mines include all borings, bore holes, oil wells and accessory crude conditioning plants; shafts in and adjacent to, and belonging to, a mine; levels and inclined planes ‘in the course of being driven’; open-cast workings; conveyors or aerial ropeways for the removal of minerals or other articles; levels, planes, machinery, works, railways, tramways and sidings in and adjacent to, and belonging to, a mine; ‘protective works’ being carried out in or adjacent to a mine; workshops and stores situated within the precincts of a mine and under the same management, which are primarily used for the purposes connected with that mine or other mines under the same management; power stations, transformer sub-stations, convertor stations, rectifier stations and accumulator storage stations for supplying electricity mainly for the purpose of working the mine or other mines under the same management; premises used for depositing sand or other material for use in a mine or for depositing refuse from a mine; and any premises in or adjacent to, and belonging to, a mine on which any process ancillary to the extraction, dressing or preparation of minerals or coke for sale is carried on.
Who are an employee of a mine?
A person is said to be employed in a mine if they work as a manager, or are appointed by the owner, agent or manager of the mine, whether for wages or not. Such persons may be employed for any mining operation; operations or services related to the development of the mine, including construction; operating, servicing, maintaining or repairing any part of machinery used in or near the mine; the welfare, health or sanitary services required to be provided under this Act; and any kind of work which is preparatory, incidental to, or connected with, mining operations. Such persons may also be employed in any office of the mine.
What are the provisions to ensure the health and safety of employees in the mine?
The Act mandates that in every mine, arrangements shall be made to provide and maintain – at conveniently situated points – a sufficient supply of ‘cool and wholesome’ drinking water for all the persons employed. There shall be a sufficient number of latrines and urinals – separate for males and females – which are conveniently situated and accessible to employed persons at all times. The latrines and urinals shall be adequately lit and ventilated, and kept clean and sanitary. Every mine shall have a number of first aid boxes which are accessible during all working hours. If a mine employs more than 150 employees, it shall provide a separate first aid room with a prescribed number of medical staff and equipment.
What does the Act say about Chief Inspectors?
The Act says that the central government – by a notification in The Gazette of India – may appoint a person as the Chief Inspector of Mines for all territories to which this Act extends. No person who is “directly or indirectly interested in any mine” shall be appointed. The Chief Inspector may enter, examine and inspect any mine at any time, to ascertain whether the Act’s provisions are being observed. They may also exercise any other powers that the central government may prescribe.
What does the Act say about the working hours of employees in mines?
No person shall be allowed to work in a mine for more than six days in a week. No person working above the ground shall be required, or allowed to, work for more than 48 hours in a week or more than nine hours in a day. No adult working below the ground can be made to work for more than 48 hours in a week or more than eight hours in a day. If a person works on a shift that extends beyond midnight, they shall be have a period of rest for 24 consecutive hours from when their shift ends. If any person works overtime in a mine, they shall be entitled to double their ordinary rate of wages for the overtime period. No person employed in a mine shall work for more than 10 hours at a stretch, including overtime.
What does the Act say about employing women in mines?
No woman shall be allowed to work below the ground in any mine. Women shall be allowed to work above the ground in any mine between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Every woman employed in a mine shall be allowed an interval of at least 11 hours between the termination of employment on one day and the commencement of the next period of employment. Female employees in mines shall be granted maternity leave for any number of days not exceeding 12 weeks.
Focus and Factoids by Jinson George Chacko.
Ministry of Law and Justice
Government of India, New Delhi
31 Dec, 1953