Indian Journal of Public Health

: 2022  |  Volume : 66  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 53--56

Preventive measures and self-protective rights at workplace: A study on steel and power industry workers in Odisha, India

Parthsarathi Dehury1, K Anil Kumar2,  
1 Research Scholar, School of Health System Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
2 Professor, School of Health System Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Parthsarathi Dehury
Parthsarathi Dehury, Hostel No. 5, Room No. C605, Deonar, Mumbai - 400 088, Maharashtra


This study aims to assess the preventive measures and self-protective rights of employees at the workplace. A survey has been conducted in a steel and power industry of Angul district of Odisha (India) using a semi-structured interview schedule to assess the determinants of occupational hazards. Occupational health practices among 425 male workers were assessed from the steel and power industry using the population proportion to sample technique (PPS). Respondents from the higher educational background, skilled workers, Hindu religious group, general category, and employees with high-household income were significantly associated (P < 0.05) with self-protective rights at the workplace. Industrial workers are considered a vulnerable group with respect to the power of self-protective rights in the industry. The factors such as job insecurity, financial hardship, less education, and unskilled profession make them vulnerable, which forces them to settle with a lower level of rights at the workplace.

How to cite this article:
Dehury P, Kumar K A. Preventive measures and self-protective rights at workplace: A study on steel and power industry workers in Odisha, India.Indian J Public Health 2022;66:53-56

How to cite this URL:
Dehury P, Kumar K A. Preventive measures and self-protective rights at workplace: A study on steel and power industry workers in Odisha, India. Indian J Public Health [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Jun 29 ];66:53-56
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Full Text

The protection of the workers' health is the prime focus for the growth of an organization. However, workers are perceived as the tools of production in various industrial setups, including steel and power sectors.[1] Workplace safety and security play a crucial role in enhancing industrial productivity. It is vital to protect workers' health and ensure all the safety measures at the workplace to increase productivity.[2] The factors such as noncompliance with preventive measures and refusal to use personal protective equipment (PPE) at the workplace lead to increasing occupational health hazards. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the annual occupational fatalities were 2.3 million; another 160 million workers face occupational diseases, and 313 million workers suffered from nonfatal injuries and accidents globally.[3] The newcomers, unskilled workers, and younger population are exposed to injury at the workplace with more vulnerability.

Workplace injury is a significant health issue among Indian workers. A statistical comparison of the National Crime Records Bureau (India) shows the death rate due to injury has been increased to 40% in 2015 from 23.3% in 2005.[4] As per the Sample Registration Survey, workplace injuries contribute to one-fifth of deaths in India.[5] ILO reported 47,000 fatal injuries and 44.1 million nonfatal injuries in the Indian industry due to accidents. Only 3% of injuries have been reported from the formal industrial sectors. Hence, the underreported injuries might lead to more death and disability among Indian workforce.[6]

Workplace safety and preventive rights at the workplace are a long struggle of workers which need to be achieved for all welfare activities. Workplace safety ensures the proper utilization of PPEs and the implementation of health and safety rules at the workplace. Preventive rights are considered the workers' rights to appeal to their higher authorities or managements during hazardous work and substances. It also ensures the workers' rights to remove them from hazardous work. The factors such as financial aspect, employment contract, and decision-making process play a significant role on self-protective right of the workers. The active participation of workers in self prevention and health promotions contributes to the safety and security of the work process. Lack of preventive measures at the workplace leads to accidents, removal of the workers from employment, and losing their jobs.[7]

A survey was conducted in steel and power industrial premises of Angul district of Odisha, India. Angul is among the top 10 most polluted Indian cities where the pollution level was very alarming due to industrial establishment.[8] A study from the power industry in Angul shows that workers in the industry premises are exposed to various hazardous and toxic agents, resulting in occupational health hazards and industrial accidents.[9] The same hazardous agents and nature of work lead to increased occupational health and industrial accidents in the study sites. A semistructured interview schedule was used to assess the preventive measures and self-protective rights of workers. The study also evaluates the practices/cooperates of the preventive measures at the workplace. Overall, 425 respondents were identified for the study as per the justification required for the sample size using probability proportion to size (PPS) technique. The sampling frame consisted of labor colonies and the villages of industrial workers. Industrial workers and their houses were identified at the first stage from different workforce supply agencies, labor welfare departments, and site contractors. A predetermined number of individuals have interviewed in each selected unit through this method. The probability of a unit being selected is proportional to the size of the ultimate unit, giving larger clusters a greater probability of selection and smaller clusters a lower probability. Data were collected between January 2019 and August 2019. Clearance from the Institutional Review Board (Sl. No 2018-19/19) was taken to conduct this study. Informed consent was also taken from the respondents.

The practices for various preventive measures for occupational health were explained in detail. [Table 1] presents employees' roles on practices of various preventative measures to control industrial hazards. The preventive measures consist of using PPEs during work, cooperation in complying with health and safety rules at the workplace, corrective action toward noncompliance of health and safety regulation, informing the higher level of management regarding unsuccessful action, and reporting immediately to the health and safety representatives. More than 52% of the respondents use PPEs correctly during work, and 48% use some time/irregularly at the workplace. Nearly 44% reported that they have cooperated with health and safety rules at the workplace.{Table 1}

The age-wise distribution shows a vast majority (89%) of the respondents from 30 to 34 years age groups informed the higher level in the management regarding unsuccessful action and immediately reported to the health and safety representatives about unusual work conditions. All skilled workers used PPEs properly, informed their higher level of management regarding unsuccessful action, and reported to the health and safety representatives about unusual work conditions. Determinants such as religion, caste, education, technical education, and occupation were strongly associated with the respondent's practices about various preventive measures at the workplace.

The employees' self-protective rights consist of the right to appeal to the higher authority about occupational health and safety, right to remove themselves from the dangerous work, right to get alternative work as per skill and capacity, right to shutdown the hazardous process or equipment, and right to not use the substances if the information is lacking. [Table 2] explains the employees' self-protective rights to prevent industrial hazards as per their characteristics.{Table 2}

Chi-square analysis confirmed the association between respondents' individual characteristics and their self-protective right to prevent occupational health hazards. Factors such as religion, caste, education, and occupation are strongly associated with the respondents' self-protective rights. Age, technical education, and type of work are also associated with employee self-protective rights.

A study found that respondents from low educational backgrounds have less knowledge about occupational legislation and preventive measures.[10] Similarly, this study also found that respondents' education and technical education are strongly associated with their knowledge of preventive measures. The self-protective right has been provided to workers to ensure free medical surveillance.[10] Here, only 23.1% of the respondents have the right to remove themselves from dangerous works, and 12% have the right to refuse to work in hazardous substances if the information is lacking. A study observed that workers should be provided with the right to refuse at the unsafe workplace, the right to go through proper medical examinations, diagnosis, and the right to free medical treatments.[11] In comparison, some other studies found that the right to rest and the right to get paid leave for the treatment of occupational health hazards helped increase employees' productivity.[12],[13] This study found only 7.8% of the respondents have the right to shut down the hazardous process and one-fourth of the respondents have the right to appeal to the higher authorities for inadequate occupational health and safety rules at the workplace.

Preventive measures and self-protective rights are significantly emphasized in workplace safety. Factors such as the use of PPEs, cooperation to health and safety rules, corrective action for noncompliance of health and safety rules, and immediate informing to higher authorities are significantly associated with education, technical education, occupation, household income, and infrastructure. Further, the study also concludes that respondents with higher educational backgrounds, high levels of skill, and high-income groups have self-protective rights to prevent hazardous processes and equipment from the workplace.


We would like to thank the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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