Home » General » Occupational Safety, Health Policy Explained [column]

The new Occupational Safety and Health Policy assigns occupational safety and health responsibilities to both employers and employees. It also recognises that workers have various safety and health rights, including the right to refuse to undertake unsafe work. Every worker, according to the policy, has the right to fair and safe labour practices and to know the occupational safety and health risks that he or she is or is likely to be exposed to and their effects.

Every worker also has the right to be consulted in the development of mechanisms that mitigate identified occupational safety and health risks.

A worker also has the right to refuse to undertake any work that has not been rendered safe.

The policy highlights the importance of safety and health awareness. It says employers should develop occupational safety and health (OSH) promotional programmes in order to raise awareness of OSH issues among both management and workers.

It says employers should establish a communication board at the general entrance to the workplace highlighting daily OSH performance on key indicators.

They should create OSH committees made up of management and OSH worker representatives that are chaired by senior management, with OSH professionals or representatives as a secretariat.

Every new worker and visitor should be given an induction on the prevailing OSH risks, the system in place to manage them and the expected response to them.

Workplace occupational safety and health policies should take into account, the policy says, the fact that workers have various and diverse needs.

Employers should, it says, treat all workers with respect, regardless of disability, language, race culture, religion, age, gender or literacy. They should value the participation of workers who have different life and work experiences where OSH matters are concerned.

They should ensure that OSH information, training and systems address diverse needs. They should adopt a risk management approach to managing workplace safety and health.

Employers are expected to ensure the safe use, handling, storage and transportation of equipment and hazardous substances, including chemicals.

They also have a responsibility to ensure the proper use by workers of occupational safety and health protection systems, including personal protective equipment and clothing.

Employers are expected to report all reportable accidents to the inspector of workplaces.

Workers, on the other hand, are required to take reasonable care of the safety and health of themselves and others.

They are expected to cooperate with employers in their efforts to comply with the OSH policy and OSH requirements.

They are required to follow procedures in the performance of any task at work. They are expected to report all accidents and near accidents to their supervisors.

Both employers and workers are prohibited from interfering with or misusing items provided for the safety and health of persons at work or obstructing attempts to give aid or prevent a serious risk to the safety and health of a person at work.

They are also prohibited from refusing a reasonable request to assist in giving aid or preventing a risk to safety and health.

Both employers and employees are warned that they should not disrupt a workplace by creating safety and health fears.

The OSH policy says Government, employers and labour unions should, either together or separately, develop or adopt appropriate standards, codes of practice and guidelines that are consistent with international OSH standards for uniformity at industrial sector andor national level in all economic activities.

Every employer should have an OSH policy and HIV and AIDS policy that are consistent with the national OSH policy.

The policy says every employer should have occupational health services which will ensure in so far as is practicable that no worker shall suffer diminished health, functional capacity or life expectancy as a result of his work activities.

In the event of occupational diseases having been contracted, the workers concerned should be suitably treated, rehabilitated and compensated.

Talking Social Security is published weekly by the National Social Security Authority as a public service. There is also a weekly radio programme on social security, PaMheponeNssaEmoyeni le NSSA, at 6.50 pm every Thursday on Radio Zimbabwe and Friday on National FM. Readers can e-mail issues they would like dealt with in this column to mail@mhpr.co.zw or text them to 0772-307913. Those with individual queries should contact their local NSSA office or telephone NSSA on (04) 7065235, 7065459, or 7990301.

Source : The Herald

Archives