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39. The Labour Standards Law,
and safety and health



The industrial safety and health portion of the old Labour Standards Law was independently enacted as the Industrial Safety and Health Law in 1972. However, since the prevention of industrial accidents is closely related to the securing of working conditions, it is stipulated that the two laws should be integrally applied.
For restricted work of female workers, restricted work of minors, etc., ordinances are established based on the Labour Standards Law.
(The Labour Standards Law, the Enforcement Ordinance of Labour Standards Law, the Ordinance on Labor Standards for Women, and the Ordinance on Labor Standards for Minors.)
1.Integrating stipulations of the Labour Standards Law and the Industrial Safety and Health Law
It is stipulated, as follows in the two laws, that the Labour Standards Law and the Industrial Safety and Health Law should be integrally applied.
a. The Industrial Safety and Health Law, Article 1
The purpose of this law is to ensure the safety and health of workers in workplaces and to promote the creation of a comfortable working environment by promoting comprehensive and systematic measures concerning the establishment of hazard prevention standards, clarification of the system for taking responsibility, and measures to be taken for promoting voluntary activities, etc. for prevention of industrial accidents, in relation to the Labour Standards Law.
b. The Labour Standards Law, Article 42
The safety and health of workers shall be as provided in the Industrial Safety and Health Law.
2. Provisions concerning safety and health management in the Labour Standards Law
The provisions in the Labour Standards Law relating to the prevention of industrial accidents are as follows:
a.Principles of working conditions (Labour Standards Law, Article 1)
The working conditions must be such that they satisfy the necessities for workers to live a life worthy of living as persons.
Because the standards for working conditions provided in this law stipulate the minimum conditions, the parties concerned with labor must not lower working conditions for reasons of this standard, and furthermore, must make efforts to improve the conditions.
b. Decisions on working conditions (Labour Standards Law, Article 2)
The working conditions should be decided upon with workers and employers being on equal footing.
The workers and the employers must observe the individual contracts for labour, working rules, and collective agreements, and fulfill their obligations respectively and faithfully.
c. Equal treatment (Labour Standards Law, Article 3)
Employers must not discriminately treat workers regarding wages, working hours, and other working conditions for reasons of nationality, belief, or social status.
d. Temporary overtime work due to accident, etc. (Labour Standards Law, Article 33)
In cases where temporary work is necessary due to an accident or other unavoidable reason, the working hours can be extended as necessary, subject to permission by the administrative agency concerned.
Note: Overtime work is possible only in cases where an agreement is reached with the labor union, etc. consisting of a majority of workers.
e. Extra wages due to overtime work, holiday work, and midnight work (Labour Standards Law, Article 37)
When an employer extends the working hours or make workers work on a holiday, an extra wage of 25% to 50% must be paid. (General)
Note: In cases where an employer provides safety and health education beyond normal working hours, he/she is obligated to pay extra wages.
f. Restrictions on dangerous and harmful work (Labour Standards Law, Article 62; Ordinance on Labor Standards for Minors, Articles 7 and 8)
Employers must not allow persons younger than 18 full years old, for example, to clean, oil, or inspect a dangerous portion of a machine, etc. during operation, or to operate a crane. (Summary)
(Examples)
: Handling boilers
: Operating cranes, etc.
: Cleaning, oiling, or inspecting a dangerous portion of a machine, etc. during operation
: Operating a motor truck with a maximum load of 2 tons or more
: Adjusting or cleaning the metal mold of a press machine
: Working at a place with a height of 5 meters or more with the risk of falling
: Assembling or disassembling scaffolding
Employers must not allow persons younger than 18 years old to engage in work handling poisonous substances, explosives, or combustible raw materials, etc., or to work at a place where harmful gas or radiation is emitted. (Summary)
(Examples)
: Handling harmful substances such as arsenic, hydrochloric acid, lead, mercury, chlorine or aniline, or working at a place where any of these gas, vapour, or dust is emitted
: Handling a large amount of a high-temperature or low-temperature material
: Working at an abnormal atmospheric pressure
: Working in which there high risk of contamination from pathogens
g. Prohibition of work in a pit (Labour Standards Law, Articles 63 and 64-2)
Employers must not let persons younger than 18 years old or women 18 years and older work in a pit.
h. Restrictions on hazardous and harmful work by pregnant women, nursing mothers, etc. (Labour Standards Law, Article 64-3; Ordinance on Labour Standards for Women, Article 2)
Employers must not allow pregnant women or women of less than one year after childbirth, to engage in work handling heavy materials, to work at a place where harmful gas is emitted, or engage in any other work harmful to the pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, etc. of pregnant women or nursing mothers. (The restricted types of work are similar to those for the minors.)
i. Before and after childbirth (Labour Standards Law, Article 65)
When a woman destined to give birth within 6 weeks (14 weeks in the case of a multiple pregnancy) asks for leave, the employer must not allow her to engage in work.
An employer must not allow a woman of less than 8 weeks after childbirth to engage in work. However, in cases where a woman of 6 weeks or more after childbirth has asked to work and where the doctor has recognized that there is no danger, then the employer can allow her to engage in work.
j. Facilities, and safety and health of dormitories (Labour Standards Law, Article 96)
This subject will be covered in the next article.

(The next article in this series covers dormitories attached to enterprises.)
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