Occupational Safety and Health Laws in Pakistan

Do you know about your health and safety laws at workplace in Pakistan? Know more about occupational health and safety laws in Pakistan.

What are the laws in Pakistan relating to the issues of occupational safety and health?

There is no independent legislation on occupational safety and health issues in Pakistan. The main law, which governs these issues, is the Chapter 3 of Factories Act, 1934. All the provinces, under this act, have devised Factories Rules. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh have enacted the Factories legislation in 2013 and 2016 respectively. The Hazardous Occupations Rules, 1963 under the authority of Factories Act is another relevant legislation. These rules not only specify some hazardous occupations (working with Lead; Aerated Waters; Rubber; Chromium; Cellulose Solution Spraying; Sand Blasting; Sodium and Potassium-Bichromates; Petrol Gas Generating Plant) but also authorize the Chief Inspector of Factories to declare any other process as hazardous.

The other related laws are:

  1. Dock Laborers Act, 1934
  2. Mines Act, 1923
  3. Workmen Compensation Act, 1923
    1. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013

    2. Sindh Workers Compensation Act, 2016

  4. Provincial Employees Social Security Ordinance, 1965
    1. The Sindh Employees Social Security Act, 2016

  5. West Pakistan Shops and Establishments Ordinance, 1969
    1. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shops and Establishments Act 2015
    2. The Sindh Shops and Commercial Establishment Act 2015
  6. Boilers and Pressure Vessels Ordinance, 2002
  7. Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997 (Hazardous Substance Rules, 2003)

  8. The Agricultural Pesticides Ordinance, 1971 (The Agricultural Pesticide Rules, 1973)

  9. West Pakistan Labour Camps Rules, 1960

Can you please tell about the health and safety provisions under the Factories Act, 1934?

Chapter 3 of the Factories Act has general provisions on health and safety at the workplace. Provincial governments are allowed to make rules under this Act and inspectors under this Act also have discretion in defining the rules. Chapter 3 talks about various safety arrangements. This list is being provided just to show how meticulously labor law covers these issues.

Cleanliness: A factory must be kept clean and free from odor/smell arising from any drain.

      (a)  accumulation of dirt and refuse to be removed daily by sweeping or by any other effective method from the floors and benches of work-rooms and from stair-cases and passages and disposed of in a suitable manner;

      (b)  the floor of every work-room must be cleaned at least once in every week by washing, using disinfectant where necessary or by some other effective method;

      (c)  where the floor is liable to become wet in the course of any manufacturing, effective means of drainage must be provided and maintained;

      (d) all inside walls and partitions, all ceilings, or tops of rooms and walls, sides and tops or passages and stair-cases must be repainted or re-varnished at least once in every five years;

               (ii) whitewashed at least once in every fourteen months; and

Disposal of wastes and effluents: Every factory must make effective arrangement for the disposal of wastes and effluents due to the manufacturing process.

Ventilation and temperature: Effective and suitable provisions must be made in every factory for securing and maintaining in every work-room–

      (a)  adequate ventilation by the circulation of fresh air, and

      (b)  secure suitable temperature and avoid injury to health 

Dust and fume: Every factory must take effective measures to prevent its accumulation in any work-room and its inhalation by workers and if any exhaust appliance is necessary for this purpose, it should be applied as near as possible to the point of origin of the dust, fume or other impurity. 

Artificial humidification: The Government may, in respect of all factories in which humidity of the air is artificially increased, make rules–

      (a)  prescribing standards of humidification;

      (b)  regulating the methods used for artificially increasing the humidity of the air;

      (c)  directing prescribed tests for determining the humidity of the air to be correctly carried out and recorded; and

      (d) prescribing methods to be adopted for securing adequate ventilation and cooling of the air in the work-rooms.

Overcrowding: Workplace should not be crowded. Law requires 500 cubic feet of space for every worker in a factory. 

Lighting: Every factory must provide and maintain sufficient and suitable lighting, natural or artificial, or both and emergency lighting of special points in work-rooms and passages to function automatically in case of a failure of the ordinary electric supply system.

Drinking Water: Every factory must provide sufficient supply of wholesome drinking water to all employed workers.

In every factory wherein more than two hundred and fifty workers are ordinarily employed, provision are to be made for cooling the drinking water during the hot weather by effective means.

Latrines and urinals: Every factory must have male and female toilets which are conveniently situated and accessible to workers.  

Spittoons: Every factory must provide, at convenient places, a sufficient number of spittoons which are maintained in a clean and hygienic condition.

Precautions against contagious or infections disease: Every worker must be provided with a hygiene card. The information in this card is updated twice a year (January and July) after examination by a factory appointed doctor that the worker is not suffering from any contagious or infectious disease. The medical examination is free for workers and its cost is borne by the employer.

If a worker is found to be suffering from any contagious or infectious disease on an examination, he cannot be appointed on work till he is declared free of such a disease.

Compulsory vaccination and inoculation: Workers must be vaccinated and inoculated against such diseases and at such intervals as may be prescribed (These are prescribed as cholera, small pox and typhoid). The expenses for such vaccination and inoculation are borne by the employer.

Power to make rules for provision of canteens: Government may make rules requiring that in any specified factory wherein more than 250 workers are ordinarily employed, an adequate canteen is provided for the use of the workers.

Welfare Officer:  A factory where 500 or more workers are ordinarily employed, the employer must engage such number of welfare officers, to perform such duties and on such terms and conditions as may be prescribed. A Welfare Officer is primarily responsible for ensuring that all statutory rights and benefits are provided to workers.

Precautions in case of fire:  Every factory must provide such means of escape in case of fire as may be prescribed. The exit doors must not be locked or fastened so that they can be easily and immediately opened from inside while any person is within the room, and all such doors, unless they are of the sliding type, shall be constructed to open outwards.

Every factory must have effective and clearly audible means of giving warning in case of fire to every person employed therein (sirens, loud speakers).

In every factory wherein more than ten workers are ordinarily employed in any place above the ground floor, or explosive or highly inflammable materials are used or stored, effective measures must be taken to ensure that all the workers are familiar with the means of escape in case of fire and have been adequately trained in the routine to be followed in such case.

The Factories Rules prescribe in respect of any factory, or class or description of factories, the means of escape to be provided in case of fire and the nature and amount of firefighting apparatus to be provided and maintained.

Fencing of machinery: In every factory, the following must be securely fenced by the safeguards of substantial construction which are kept in position while the parts of machinery required to be fenced are in motion or in use.

Work on or near machinery in motion: If it becomes necessary to examine any part of machinery while the machinery is in motion, or as a result of such examination, to carry out any mounting or shipping of belts, lubrication or other adjusting operation while the machinery is in motion, such examination or operation may be made or carried out only by a specially trained adult male worker wearing tight fitting clothing.

No woman or child may be allowed in any factory to clean, lubricate or adjust any part of machinery while that part is in motion, or to work between moving parts or between fixed and moving parts of any machinery which is in motion.

Employment of young persons on dangerous machines: No child or adolescent- under 17 years can work at any machine unless he has been fully instructed regarding dangers and precautions to be observed. He must have received sufficient training in work at the machine, or is under adequate supervision by a person who has thorough knowledge and experience of the machine.

Striking gear and devices for cutting off power: In every factory, suitable striking gear or other efficient mechanical appliances must be provided and maintained and used to move driving belts to and from fast and loose pulleys which form part of the transmission machinery. Such gear or appliances must be so constructed, placed and maintained as to prevent the belt from creeping back on the fast pulleys. 

Self-acting machines: No traversing part of a self-acting machine in any factory and no material carried thereon can, if the space over which it runs is a space over which any person is liable to pass whether in the course of his employment or otherwise, be allowed to run on its outward or inward traverse within a distance of eighteen inches from any fixed structure which is not part of the machine

Casing of new machinery: In all machinery driven by power and installed in any factory, every set screw, belt or key on any revolving shaft, spindle, wheel or pinion must be so sunk, encased or otherwise effectively guarded as to prevent danger

Prohibition of employment of women and children near cotton openers: No woman or child can be employed in any part of a factory for pressing cotton in which a cotton opener is at work.

Cranes and other lifting machinery: There are specific provisions in the law regarding cranes and other lifting machinery.

Hoists and lifts: There are special provisions regarding hoists and lifts and revolving machinery.

Floors, stairs and means of access: All floors, stairs, passages and gangways must be of sound construction and properly maintained and where it is necessary to ensure safety, steps, stairs, ladders, passages and gangways must be provided with substantial handrails.

Pits, sumps, opening in floors, etc.: In every factory, every fixed vessel, sump, tank pit or opening in the ground or in floor which by reason of its depth, situation, construction or contents, is or may be a source of danger, should be either securely covered or securely fenced. 

Excessive weights: No person shall be employed in any factory to lift, carry or move any load so heavy as to be likely to cause him injury.


    1. For adult (17 years or more) male worker: maximum weight limit is 200 Lbs
    2. For adult female worker: maximum weight limit is 50 Lbs
    3. Male adolescents (15-17 years): maximum weight limit is 50 Lbs
    4. Female adolescents: maximum weight limit is 40 Lbs
    5. Children aged 15 years and below: maximum weight limit is 35 Lbs


Protection of eyes: The Government may require that effective screens or suitable goggles shall be provided if the work process or being in its vicinity involves risk of injury to the eyes from particles or fragments thrown off in the course of the process, or risk to the eyes by reason of exposure to excessive light or heat.

Powers to require specifications of defective parts or tests of stability: If it appears to the Inspector that any building or part of a building, or any part of the ways, machinery or plant in a factory, is in such a condition that it may be dangerous to human life or safety, he may order the manager to show necessary information indicating that the building can be used with safety.

Safety of building, machinery and manufacturing process: If it appears to the Inspector that any building or part of a building or any part of the ways, machinery or plant or manufacturing process in a factory is in such a condition that it is dangerous to human health or safety, he may serve on the Manager of the factory an order in writing specifying the measures which, in his opinion, should be adopted, and requiring them to be carried out before a specified date.

Precautions against dangerous fumes: No person may enter or be permitted to enter any chamber, tank, vat, pit, pipe, flue or other confined space in which dangerous fumes are likely to be present to such an extent as to involve risk of persons being overcome thereby, unless there are effective means of egress.

Explosive or inflammable dust, gas, etc.: Where in any factory any manufacturing process produces dust, gas, fume or vapour of such character and to such extent as to be likely to explode on ignition, all practicable measures shall be taken to prevent any such explosion.

Power to exclude children: The Government may make rules prohibiting the admission to any specified class of factories, or to specified parts thereof, of children who cannot be lawfully employed therein.

Notice of certain accidents: Where in any factory an accident occurs which causes death, or which causes any bodily injury whereby any person injured is prevented from resuming his work in the factory during the 48 hours after the accident occurred, or which is of any nature which may be prescribed in this behalf, the manager of the factory shall send notice to such authorities, and in such form and within such time, as may be prescribed.  

Additional power to make health and safety rules relating to shelters during rest: A factory where more than 150 workers are ordinarily employed, an adequate shelter must be provided for the use of workers during periods of rest

Rooms for children: A factory where more than 50 women workers are ordinarily employed, a suitable room must be reserved for the use of children under the age of six years belonging to such women. The use of such rooms is restricted to the children, their attendants, and mothers of such children.

Certificates of stability: The Government may require that work on a manufacturing process carried on with the aid of power shall not be begun in any building or part of a building erected or taken into use as a factory until a certificate of stability in the prescribed form, signed by a person possessing the prescribed qualifications, has been sent to the Inspector.

Hazardous operations: If the Government is satisfied that any operation in a factory exposes any persons employed upon it to a serious risk of bodily injury, poisoning or disease, it may make rules applicable to any factory or class of factories in which the operation is carried on–

            (a)  specifying the operation and declaring it to be hazardous,

            (b)  prohibiting or restricting the employment of women, adolescents or children upon the operation,

                (c)   providing for the medical examination of persons employed or seeking to be employed upon the operation and prohibiting the employment of persons not certified as fit for such employment, and

            (d) providing for the protection of all persons employed upon the operation or in the vicinity of the places where it is carried on.

Similarly, Chapter 5 of the Mines Act provides for various health and safety arrangements. You will find similar provisions in the Pakistan Dock Laborers Regulations for dockworkers. Employment of Children 1991 and newly enacted child labour legislation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh also has provisions on maintaining a safe and healthy workplace for children and adolescents. 

How does government ensure that the above-mentioned provisions are followed at the workplaces?

All the above laws require the appropriate government (Federal or Provincial) to appoint qualified individuals as inspectors. It is the duty of inspectors to enforce these laws. The usual powers of inspectors include the right to enter and inspect any workplace, taking evidence from persons for carrying out their duties. A person can’t be appointed as inspector or continue to hold the office of inspector if he or she becomes directly or indirectly interested in the workplace (it is factory under the Factories Act, a dock or a ship under Dock Laborers Act and a mine under the Mines Act.

Does Employer or Government provide any training to the workers regarding workplace health and safety issues?

Various government agencies like National Institute of Labor Administration and Training, Directorate of Workers Education provide training to workers on these issues. Directorate of Dock Workers Safety (DDWS) and Central Inspectorate of Mines provide training to dock workers and mine workers respectively. The Centre for Improvement of Working Conditions and Environment (CIWCE) is a pioneering institution in Pakistan (working under the Directorate of Labor Welfare, Punjab) which provides training, information and research facilities for promotion of safety, health and better work environment in the industries and businesses. You can also find training materials, safety posters and different safety signs from this Centre. Please follow the link for further details:

Saeed Ahmed Awan Centre for Improvement of Working Conditions & Environment

Are there any special provisions on working of women and adolescents in factories or mines?

Pakistan has ratified the following two ILO conventions relating to the special treatment for women and adolescents in the occupational safety and health context.

C45 Underground Work (Women) Convention, 1935
C89 Night Work (Women) Convention (Revised), 1948
C90 Night Work of Young Persons (Industry) Convention (Revised), 1948

Article 2 of the C45 requires that no women should be employed in on underground work in any mine. In accordance with the provision of this convention, article 23-C (1) of Mines Act prohibits the employment of women in any underground mine.

As for young persons, who are not seventeen years of age yet, they can’t also be employed in any part of a mine unless they present a certificate of fitness on a prescribed form by a qualified medical practitioner (section 26-A of Mines Act).

Similarly for safety reasons and under the above conventions, labor laws also limit the employment of women and adolescents at night. Section 45 of Factories Act limits the employment of women up to only 07:00 p.m. (or if employer arranges for pick and drop and with employees own accord), a female worker may worker until 10 p.m. Section 54 of the Act requires that children (over the age of 14 years) should not be employed after 07 p.m.

We also find provision on prohibition on employment of children and women in any part of the factory for pressing cotton in which a cotton-opener is at work (section 32). The referred section also talks about certain exemptions from this provision.

Similarly, section 33-M authorizes the provincial government to make rules prohibiting the employment of children (above the age of fourteen) to any specified class of factories or to any specified parts thereof. It also allows a factories inspector, if it appears to him that children can’t be legally employed in a part of the factory or in a factory, he may serve on the factory manager an order to prevent such admission.

Section 28 of the Factories Act also requires that no young person (child or adolescent) shall operate a machine until he has received sufficient training for operating it and is under adequate supervision by some other person with thorough knowledge and experience of machine. Moreover, these requirements should also be met before employing young persons on machines that are notified as dangerous by Provincial governments.

Note: the term young person has been used collectively for children and adolescents. The Employment of Children Act 1991 defines a child as the one who has not completed fourteen years of age while an adolescent is defined as the one whose age is greater than 14 years but less than 18 years.

Is there any data available on occupational accidents in Pakistan?

Pakistan Labor Force Survey collects data on occupational injuries/ accidents in all the parts of country. For further details please see below:



For an analysis of recent OSH data, please refer to the government report. 

Occupational Safety and Health: Legal Framework and Trend Analysis (2010-15)


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