Factories Act, 1955

Power to direct formal investigation of accidents and cases of disease.

78.—(1) The Minister may, where he considers it expedient so to do, direct a formal investigation to be held into any accident occurring or case of disease contracted or suspected to have been contracted in a factory and of its causes and circumstances.

(2) The following provisions shall have effect in relation to an investigation under this section:—

(a) the Minister may appoint a competent person to hold the investigation, and may appoint any person possessing legal or special knowledge to act as assessor in holding the investigation;

(b) the person or persons so appointed (hereinafter in this subsection referred to as the tribunal) shall hold the investigation in open court in such manner and under such conditions as the tribunal may think most effectual for ascertaining the causes and circumstances of the accident or case of disease, and for enabling the tribunal to make its report;

(c) the tribunal shall have for the purposes of the investigation all the powers of a Justice of the District Court when hearing a prosecution for an offence under this Act, and all the powers of an inspector under this Act, and, in addition, power—

(i) to enter and inspect any place or building the entry or inspection whereof appears to the tribunal requisite for the said purposes;

(ii) by summons signed by the tribunal to require the attendance of all such persons as it thinks fit to call before it and examine for the said purposes, and to require answers or returns to such inquiries as it thinks fit to make;

(iii) to require the production of all books, papers and documents which it considers important for the said purposes;

(iv) to administer an oath and require any person examined to make and sign a declaration of the truth of the statements made by him in his examination;

(d) persons attending as witnesses before the tribunal shall be allowed such expenses as would be allowed to witnesses attending before a court of record, and in case of dispute as to the amount to be allowed, the dispute shall be referred by the tribunal to a taxing master of the High Court, who, on request, signed by the tribunal, shall ascertain and certify the proper amount of the expenses;

(e) the tribunal shall make a report to the Minister stating the causes and circumstances of the accident or case of disease and its circumstances, and adding any observations which the tribunal thinks right to make;

(f) the tribunal may require the expenses incurred in and about an investigation under this section (including the remuneration of any persons appointed to act as assessors) to be paid in whole or part by any person summoned before it who appears to the tribunal to be, by reason of any act or default on his part or on the part of any servant or agent of his, responsible in any degree for the occurrence of the accident or case of disease, but any such expenses not required to be so paid shall be deemed to be part of the expenses of the Minister in the administration of this Act;

(g) any person who without reasonable excuse (proof whereof shall lie on him) either fails, after having had the expenses (if any) to which he is entitled tendered to him, to comply with any summons or requisition of the tribunal, or prevents or impedes the tribunal in the execution of its duty, shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds, and, in the case of a failure to comply with a requisition for making any return or producing any document, if the failure in respect of which a person was so convicted is continued after the conviction, he shall be guilty of a further offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding ten pounds for every day on which the failure was so continued;

(h) the Minister may cause the report of the tribunal to be made public at such time and in such manner as he thinks fit.