Mines are places where minerals get extracted from the earth, and mines need to be protected and administered to save the environment and the employees working in the mines. The Mines act is umbrella legislation covering significant aspects related to the mines.
The Ministry of Labour and Employment administers the Mines Act, 1952, providing the provisions related to workers’ health, safety, and welfare in the mining industry. The Directorate General of Mines Safety is the regulatory agency appointed by the Indian government for safety in mines. The Mines Act 1952 amalgamates and modifies Labour Laws in India.
The objective of the Mines Act, 1952
The objective with which the Mines Act, 1952 got enacted was to adjust the conditions of workers in the Mines. The Act aims to regulate the working condition of workers’ annual leave with wages of the worker and provides the hours and limitations of employment.
However, the main objective of the Act is to ensure adequate safety measures and promote the health and safety of workers employed in the mines.
Applicability of the Mines Act, 1952
The Mines Act 1952 applied to the whole of India and came into force on 1st July 1952. For the remaining States, the Act was to come into force on or before 31st December 1953.
Non- Applicability of the Mines Act, 1952
Section 4 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides conditions where the act does not apply. The provision of the Act other than sections 7,8,9,40,45 & 46 does not apply in certain conditions.
The act does not apply when the mining is done for searching purposes and not for sale—provided that the number of employees employed is not more than 20 people. And the mine, when measured, does not exceed the length of six metres; in the case of coal mining, the length is fifteen metres. Also, no part of the mine should extend fifteen metres.
The Mines Act, 1952 does not apply, where mine is engaged in extracting kankar, murrum, laterite, boulder, gravel, etc. Provided that the working does not extend below the superjacent ground and in case of open cast working; the length of the mine does not exceed six metres; the number of employees should not exceed fifty, and explosives are not used in excavation.
Scope of the Mines Act, 1952
Following is the scope of the Act:
- The Act seeks to achieve a fair and healthy environment through inspecting staff. For better administration of the Mines, the Mines Act empowers the Central Government to appoint Chief inspectors and inspectors. They are assigned various powers and functions related to the Mines Act, 1952. The Provisions relating to the same gets provided under Section 5 to 11 of the Mines Act, 1952.
- For the appointment of authority, inquire into the accident committee constituted by the Central Government. The Committees are vested with the powers of the civil court. The provision related to the committee, its functions and powers gets provided under Section 12- 15 of the Mines Act, 1952.
- The Act also provides the provision related to the Mining Operations and Management of mines under Section 16 to 18 of the Mines Act, 1952.
- To make the provision related to the Health and Safety of workers employed in Mines. Section 19- 27 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides provisions related to the health and safety of the workers.
- To make the provision related to the hours and limitation of employment. Provisions related to the Hours and limitation of employment gets provided under Section 28-48 of the Mines Act, 1952.
- To lay down the provision related to the leave, wages and mode of recovery of unpaid wages. The provisions related to this gets provided under Section 49-56 of the Mines Act, 1952.
Meaning of Mine
Mine, in general, means the system of excavation made to extract minerals, coal, ore or precious stones.
Section 2(1)(j) of the Mines Act, 1952 define Mine. According to this Act, Mines means any excavation where any operation to search or obtain minerals. Mine includes:
- Borings, boreholes, oil wells and crude conditioning plants that include pipe conveying mineral oil within the oil feed
- All shafts that belong to mine.
- All opencast working
- All conveyors or ropeways provided for bringing or removal from mines or minerals.
- All adits, levels, planes, machinery, works etc. that belongs to a mine,
- All the protective work get carried out in or adjacent to mine.
- All workshops and stores situated within the surrounding area of mine under management.
- Power stations, transformer substations, etc., are utilised to perform the work of the mine or several mines under the same management.
- Any premises used for the depositing of sand or other material used in a mine owned by the owner of the mine
Sections under Mines Act, 1952
- Adult: Section 2(1)(b) of the Mines Act, 1952 defines an adult as a person who has completed eighteen years of age.
- Agent: Section 2(1)(c) of the Mines Act, 1952 defines an agent as used about mine. An agent is a person who acts on behalf of the owners and takes part in the management, control, supervision or direction of the mine.
- Chief Inspector: Section 2(1)(d) of the Mines Act, 1952 defines Chief Inspector. Chief Inspector means the Chief Inspector of Mines appointed under the Act.
- Day: Section 2(1)(e) of the Mines Act, 1952 defines the day. Day means twenty-four hours that begin at midnight.
- Employed: Section 2(1)(h) of the Mines Act, 1952 defines employed. A person gets considered employed in a mine who works as the mine manager or under the appointment by the owner, agent or manager of the mine or with the managers’ knowledge, whether he works for wages or not. He works:
- In any mining operation
- In operation or service related to the mine, it includes operations associated with the development of the mines.
- In operating service, maintaining or repairing any part of the machinery used in mines.
- In any operation within the premises of the mine related to loading and dispatch of mines
- In the office of the mines
- For any welfare, health sanitary or conservancy services required for the welfare of the mine
- In any kind of work that is preparatory or is in connection with the mining operation.
- Minerals: Section 2(1)(jj) of the Mines Act defines Minerals. According to this Act, mineral means all substances obtained from the earth.
- Reportable Injury: Section 2(1)(pp) of the Mines Act defines reportable injury. According to this Act, it means an injury different from the serious bodily injury that involves the enforced absence of the injured person from work for seventy-two hours or more.
- Serious Bodily Injury: Section 2(1)(q) of the Mines Act defines Serious Bodily Injury. Serious Bodily Injury means any injury involving the permanent loss of any part of the body or permanent loss or injury to sight, hearing or physical incapacity or fracture of any bone or joints.
Inspectors and Certifying Surgeons
Chief Inspector and Inspector
Sector 5 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides provision for appointment of Chief Inspectors and Inspectors. The Central Government can appoint anyone with the required qualifications as the Chief Inspector of Mines. The Chief Inspector of Mines gets appointed for the territory the Act extends. The person interested in the mines can not be appointed the Chief Inspector or an Inspector.
Section 5(3) of the Mines Act, 1952 vests the District Magistrate with the power to perform the duties of an Inspector as to general or special orders of the Central Government. But the district magistrate cannot exercise power conferred under section 22 or section 22 A or section 61 of the Act.
Both the Chief Inspector and Inspector are considered public servants within the meaning of the Indian Penal Code.
Functions of Inspector
Section 6 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides the functions of the inspector. With the approval of the Central Government, the Chief Inspector can make an order to authorise any inspector or any class of inspector to exercise the power of the Chief Inspector subject to certain restrictions.
The Chief Inspector can restrict any inspector from exercising power conferred on him under this Act by passing an order in writing.
The Chief Inspector declares the local area or areas within the group or class of mines to which the inspector can exercise their power.
Power of Inspector of Mines
Section 7 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides the Power of Inspector of Mines. The Chief Inspector and Inspector can:
- Make examination and inquiry to ascertain whether the rules, regulations, bye-laws and provisions of this Act are appropriately followed in the case. He can enter, inspect and examine any mine or its part at any time of the day. But the power conferred under this section should not get exercised to obstruct the working of mines.
- The Inspector can examine and inquire about the Mine’s condition and ventilation and the sufficiency of the bye-laws related to the mine. They ensure that all matters pertaining to the health, safety and welfare of the process employed in the mine.
- Inspectors can exercise all the powers prescribed by the Central Government, provided that no person can make any statement or answer any question that can incriminate him.
- The Chief Inspector and Inspector is vested with the power to search any place or take possession of any material, plan, register or record related to the mine if he has the reason to believe after inspection, examination or inquiry that any offence under this act gets committed.
The provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code,1973, applies for search or seizure.
Facility for the Inspector
Section 9 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides all the facilities for entering, inspecting, surveying, measuring, examining or, inquiry to facilitate every owner, agent and manager of the mine to Chief Inspector or any Inspector.
Section 11 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides the provision for appointment of the Certifying Surgeons. The Central Government has the power to appoint qualified medical practitioners to be certifying surgeons.
Any person who is owner, agent or manager of the mine who is directly or indirectly cannot be appointed to exercise the power of certifying surgeons. Certifying Surgeon shall carry out his duties related to the examination and certification of adolescents, persons engaged in the mine in dangerous occupation exercising the medical supervision for any mine where cases of illness have occurred or are likely to cause injury to health.
Constitution of the Committee (Section 12)
The Central Government should constitute a committee, consisting of:
Functions of the Committee
Section 13 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides functions that the committee needs to perform. Functions that the committee shall perform are as follows:
The committee should consider proposals to make rules and regulations. And should also make appropriate recommendations to the Central Government. (Section 13(1)(a))
The committee should inquire about accidents or other matters and prepare reports as the Central Government refers. (Section 13(1)(b))
To hear and decide appeals or objections against notices issued under Mines Act
Power of the Committee
Section 14 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides powers of the committee. The powers are as follows:
- A committee constituted under Section 12 can exercise powers of Inspector provided under Mines Act.
- The inspector’s power can be used in the manner necessary to discharge the committee’s function.
- A committee to perform its functions has the same power vested on the courts under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. The powers can get utilised to perform the following functions:
- Discovery and Inspection
- To compel the production of documents
- For any other matter as prescribed.
Health and Safety
Section 19 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides that in every mine, there should be an effective arrangement made to maintain points for a sufficient supply of cool and wholesome drinking water for the mine employees.
If a person gets employed below the ground, the chief inspector should make necessary arrangements to provide and maintain suitable points for effective arrangements for the supply of water.
The points should get marked as DRINKING WATER, and in a language that employees can understand. No water points should get situated within six metres of the washing place, urinal, or washroom.
Section 20 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides that it is essential to have a separate urinal for males and females. The urinals and washrooms should get situated for convenience and be accessible to employees of the mine. The washrooms and urinals should get ventilated, lighted and clean.
Section 21 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides that every mine should have a first-aid box or cupboards equipped with medical appliances. The first-aid box and a wardrobe should be easily accessible during working hours. No other content other than prescribed content should be present in the first-aid box or wardrobe.
Each cupboard and the first-aid box should be in-charge of a responsible person who should always be available during working hours.
Notice for accidents
Section 23 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides the notice of an accident is to be sent to the prescribed authority. As per this section, whenever there is an accident in the mine that causes anyone of the following injuries:
- Death or Serious bodily injury
- Fire outbreak, explosion, the inrush of water
- The inflow of inflammable gases
- Breakage of rope or chain that lead to lowering of person or material raised in the shaft
- Overwinding of cages when the person or material or lowered or raised
- The premature collapse of any working tool
- Any other accident
The owner, agent or manager of the mine should give notice of the accident to the authority. The person should simultaneously post one copy of the notice on the special notice board. The notice is placed where the trade union officials can inspect it, and the notice is kept for at least fourteen days from the posting date.
Power of the Government to appoint inquiry in case of an accident
Section 24 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides that when an accident occurs in a mine, the Central Government can appoint a person to inquire about the accident. The appointed person should have the powers of civil court provided under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
The power gets vested on the appointed person to enforce a witness’s attendance and compel the production of documents and material objects in the Court. The appointed can also exercise the powers of the Inspector.
The person thus holds an inquiry and makes a report to the Central Government. The report states the causes of accidents and any other observation that he thinks fit.
Notice of certain diseases
Section 25 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides the provision for notice of certain diseases. An employee suffers from any disease notified by the Central Government in the Official Gazette as a disease connected with mining. The owner, agent or manager of the mine should send notice to the Chief Inspector or other authorities in the form and within the prescribed time.
When a medical practitioner attends to a person suffering from the aforementioned diseases, the medical practitioner should send a report in writing to the Chief Inspector without any delay. The report should state the name and address, the diseases the patient is suffering from, and the name and address of the mine. If the Chief Inspector believes that the person is suffering from the disease, he shall pay the fees of the medical practitioner. The fee paid is recoverable as an arrear of land revenue.
Power to direct investigation for causes of disease
Section 25 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides that the Central Government can appoint a competent person to inquire and prepare a report about the cause of disease.
Hours and Limitation of Employment
A weekly day of rest
Section 28 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides that a person should not be allowed to work in a mine for more than six days a week.
Compensatory days of rest
Section 29 of the Mines Act,1952 provides that a person who gets deprived of a weekly rest days should get a weekly day-off as is due to him within a month or two. The compensatory days of rest should equal the number of deprived days of rest.
Hours of work above ground
Section 2(2)(b) of the Mines Act, 1952 defines above ground as a person working in an open cast.
According to Section 30, no worker should be allowed to work for more than forty-eight hours a week and nine hours a day.
After the approval of the Chief Inspector, the maximum hours gets increased to facilitate the change of shifts.
The work should get arranged so that the employee gets sufficient time to take a rest. The working hours should not be more than 12 hours, including intervals, and the person should not work for more than five hours continuously. Also, the person who works in two or more shifts shall not be allowed to do the same kind of work above ground.
Hours of work below ground
Section 31 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides that no adult employed below the ground should be allowed to work for more than forty-eight hours in any week or for more than eight hours in a day. The number of working hours can get increased with prior approval of the Chief Inspector to facilitate the change of shifts. No person working below the ground should be allowed to stay below for more than the time of his shift.
Section 32 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides if a person employed in a mine works on night shifts that extend beyond midnight should be provided a week-off day should be provided and his consecutive twenty-four hours should begin after his shift comes to an end.
Extra wages for overtime
Section 33 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides situations when an employee can get extra wages for overtime. The situations are as follows:
- An employee works for more than nine hours above ground.
- An employee works more than eight hours below ground.
- An employee works any week for more than 48 hours.
In all the above situations, an employee gets entitled to extra wages. The extra wage provided should be more than twice the amount of the normal wage. The overtime is calculated on daily or weekly wages depending upon what is more favourable for the employee.
Prohibition of employment
Section 34 of the Mines Act, 1952 states that any person who worked for the preceding twelve hours in a mine should not be allowed to work in any other mine.
Limitation of Work Hours
Section 35 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides that a person should not work in any mine for more than ten hours, including overtime.
Employment of person below eighteen years of age
Section 40 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides that no person below the age of 18 years gets employed in the mine. A trainee not below sixteen years of age can work in a mine under proper supervision.
Employment of Women
Section 46 provides that no women shall be employed in a mine below or above the ground except between 6:00 A.M. and 7:00 P.M.
Women employed in the mine above ground should have at least eleven hours between termination and commencement of employment. Also, the employment of any woman in a mine between 10:00 P.M. and 5:00 A.M. is not permitted.
Leave with Wages
Chapter VII of the Mines Act, 1952 provides provisions for the leave and wages of the employees.
Definition of leave
Section 50 of the Mines Act provides that leave for this chapter should not include the weekly day of rest or festive holidays that occur during or end for the period of leave.
Section 51 of the Mines Act provides that the calendar year means twelve months that begin from the first day of January of any year.
Annual leave with wages
Section 52 provides that every employee who has completed a calendar year should get leave with wages in the consecutive year.
The leave with wage is calculated:
- If a person is employed below the ground for working for every fifteen days, one leave with wage gets awarded.
- In any other case, the rate of one leaves with the wage for every twenty days of work.
A calendar year service gets completed when:
- When an employee, employed below the ground, has at least one hundred and ninety attendance in the mine.
- In the case of any other employee, he has at least two hundred and forty attendances in a mine in a calendar year.
When service of the employee started after first January
A person whose service began after the first January of any year is entitled to the leave with wage if:
- An employee gets employed below the ground he, has at least one-half of the total number of remaining days of the calendar year.
- In any other case, he has put attendance for at least two-thirds of the remaining days of the calendar year.
If a person is entitled to leave in a calendar year and has not taken it, the leave should get added to the number of allowed leaves during the succeeding year, provided that the number of leave cannot exceed thirty days. A person who applied for the leave with wage, but was not granted such leave, is entitled to carry forward not availed leave without any limit.
A person can apply in writing for leave with a wage fifteen days before the day he wishes to get the leave, and the manager should make the application. If the employee wants to avail the leave with wage to cover the period of illness, he can avail such leave even without fifteen days prior notice. This leave cannot be refused until the authority believes that owing to exigencies of the situation, the leave should get refused.
When the person employed in the mine gets terminated, or an employee quits from the employment by the authority before he takes his entire leave, he is entitled. The manager, owner, or agent is responsible for paying him the amount payable.
Power of Central Government to make regulations
Section 57 of the Mines Act, 1952 emperors the Central Government to make regulations. The purpose for which the laws can get made are as follows:
- To prescribe the qualification for appointment as Chief Inspector or Inspector.
- To prescribe the duties and powers of the Chief Inspector and Inspector regarding the inspection of mines.
- To prescribe the duties and qualifications of owners, agents and managers.
- To regulate the manner to ascertain the examinations, qualification of the manager of mines and to grant renewal of certificates of competency.
- To fix the fees for examinations.
- To provide conditions in which it will be lawful for a single manager to be the manager of mines.
- To regulate the occurrence of accidents, explosions and ignition in mines.
- To prohibit, restrict or regulate the employment of women in mines.
- To make provision for the safety of the person employed in the mine.
- To prohibit the employment in a mine of a person as a manager in mine.
- To provide provision for the safety of the road and working-place in mine.
- To regulate the machinery in mines.
- To provide proper lighting in mine.
Power of Central Government to make rules
Section 58 of the Mines Act, 1952 empowers to make rules for the following purpose:
- Filing of vacancy of the members of the committee and for proceeding in terms of office
- For appointment, procedures and power of the Courts for inquiry and payment of travelling allowance.
- To maintain a standard of sanitation, washrooms and urinals.
- To maintain supply and maintenance of the medical appliance.
- To prohibit intoxicating drinks or drugs in the mine.
- To forbid the employment of a person not certified by a medical practitioner.
The Mines Act of 1952 got enacted to provide safety to the employees working in the mines. It states the working condition provided to the employees of the mines. It includes provision for the appointment of Inspectors and Chief Inspectors to regulate the working of mines.
The Mines Act empowers the Central government to make rules and regulations related to the mines. It protects the employees from being exploited by the owners of the mine. The act covers every aspect related to the mines and their proper administration.
What is the penalty for employing a person below eighteen years of age?
Section 68 of the Mines Act, 1952 provides punishment for the employing person below eighteen years of age in a mine, and the mine manager is punishable with a fine of five hundred rupees.
What is the penalty for using a false fitness certificate?
If a person uses a false fitness certificate, he shall be punishable with one-month imprisonment or a fine that may extend to two hundred rupees.
What do you mean by calendar year?
Calendar year means one year starting from 1st January of every year
What are the maximum hours an employee can work in a mine in a week?
The maximum number of hours an employee can work in a mine in a week is forty-eight hours.