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Health and Safety Standards

Explore workplace health and safety laws in Afghanistan

Health and safety laws

Afghanistan's health and safety legislation is designed to protect employees in various workplaces. The key regulatory areas and legal references are broken down as follows:

Core Legislation

The Labor Law (2007) forms the foundation of Afghan workplace regulations. Key provisions related to health and safety include:

  • Article 11: Outlines workers' rights to safe working environments, training, and protection from occupational hazards.
  • Chapter 5: Specifically focuses on workplace health and safety, establishing employer responsibilities for risk assessments, protective measures, and accident reporting.

Supportive Regulatory Framework

Several other laws and regulations complement the Labor Law in establishing health and safety standards:

  • Law of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on Standards and Technical Regulations (2016): This law addresses product safety and technical requirements, which can indirectly impact workplace safety.
  • Environment Law of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (2007): This law incorporates environmental protection measures, which can have implications for workplace health and safety in specific industries.
  • Sector-Specific Regulations: Some industries like mining or construction may have additional regulations and standards addressing specific occupational hazards.

Key Areas of Health and Safety Regulation

Afghan laws and regulations address various workplace health and safety aspects, including:

  • Workplace Conditions: Employers are generally obligated to provide clean, well-ventilated, and adequately lit working environments.
  • Hazardous Substances: Regulations cover the handling, storage, and disposal of hazardous chemicals and materials.
  • Machinery and Equipment Safety: Employers are responsible for ensuring machinery and equipment are safe, well-maintained, and accompanied by appropriate operating instructions.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Employers must provide necessary PPE based on workplace risks and ensure proper usage.
  • Training and Education: Workers are entitled to receive training on health and safety hazards specific to their jobs.

Enforcement and Challenges

Limited resources, complex security situations, and informal sectors pose challenges to effective enforcement of health and safety laws in Afghanistan.

Occupational health and safety

Occupational health and safety (OHS) in Afghanistan is governed by several key regulatory frameworks. The Labor Law of Afghanistan (2007) provides basic provisions for workplace health and safety, including clauses on employer's responsibility, regulations for hazardous work, and provisions for compensation in case of workplace injury or illness. While a dedicated OHS Act exists, information on its specific provisions or implementation status is difficult to find reliably. Afghanistan has also ratified several key International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions relevant to OHS, providing a foundation for workplace safety.

However, the implementation and enforcement of OHS regulations in Afghanistan face significant challenges. The ongoing political and security situation, limited government capacity and resources, a substantial informal workforce, and low levels of awareness among both employers and workers about OHS rights and best practices create major barriers.

Key Areas of Focus

Despite these challenges, there are key areas of OHS that need attention in Afghanistan:


Construction sees high rates of accidents and fatalities due to falls, lack of scaffolding, and unsafe working practices.


In the mining sector, workers are exposed to hazardous dusts, leading to respiratory diseases, and there are risks of mine collapse and rockfalls.


In manufacturing, there are risks from unguarded machinery and dangerous equipment, as well as chemical hazards and inadequate ventilation.


In agriculture, workers face risks from pesticide and fertilizer exposure, and injuries from machinery and animal handling.

Steps Towards Improvement

To improve OHS in Afghanistan, several steps can be taken:

Strengthening the Legal Framework

Updating and clarifying the Occupational Health and Safety Act, along with better enforcement mechanisms, is crucial.

Capacity Building

Training government inspectors, employers, and workers on OHS standards and their implementation can help improve safety.

Awareness Campaigns

Raising awareness through targeted campaigns and education programs for both workers and employers can help improve understanding of OHS rights and best practices.


Cooperation between government, NGOs, trade unions, and international organizations can leverage resources and expertise for OHS improvement.

Workplace inspection

Workplace inspections play a crucial role in ensuring compliance with labor laws, identifying potential hazards, and acting as a deterrent for employers to maintain safer conditions. The inspections are designed to verify if workplaces adhere to the Labor Law of Afghanistan (2007) and any more specific regulations. They aim to proactively find potential risks and safety violations before they lead to accidents or illnesses.

Inspection Procedures

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is presumably responsible for conducting workplace inspections. However, their capacity to do so effectively may be significantly limited. Inspections may be triggered by routine schedules, complaints from workers, or serious workplace accidents. The specifics of these triggers and how responsive the system would be to them is unclear.

Inspection Criteria

Inspections would likely focus on basic provisions from the Labor Law of Afghanistan (2007). These include checks for workplace hazards such as fall hazards, unguarded machinery, and unsafe electrical systems. Inspectors would also check for the availability and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) appropriate to the work. Other criteria include adequate air quality, especially in industries dealing with dust or chemicals, sufficient sanitation facilities, and maintenance of records of accidents, injuries, or illnesses as required by law.

Inspection Frequency

Due to constrained resources and the challenging environment in Afghanistan, it's highly likely that workplace inspections are infrequent. They may focus on the highest-risk industries or in response to specific incidents.

Follow-up Actions

After an inspection, inspectors could issue orders requiring employers to rectify safety violations within a specific timeframe. The Labor Law may allow for fines for non-compliance, but how consistently these are applied is unknown. In cases of extreme or repeated violations, authorities may have the power to order temporary or permanent workplace closures.

Key Limitations

The outlined procedures represent an idealized scenario. In practice, the Afghan government's capacity to conduct widespread and effective workplace inspections for compliance is severely limited by security concerns, lack of resources, and the large informal sector.

Workplace accidents

Employers in Afghanistan, as per the Labor Law of 2007, are required to report serious workplace accidents and injuries to the relevant authorities, which is likely the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Injured workers or their representatives also have the right to report accidents directly to authorities if the employer fails to do so.

Investigation Processes

Afghanistan likely has limited resources for comprehensive workplace accident investigations. In practice, investigations might only occur in cases of severe injury, fatality, or if there's a formal complaint. Potential investigators could include government labor inspectors, law enforcement (in cases of potential negligence or criminality), and representatives of trade unions (where they exist).

Compensation Claims

The Labor Law of Afghanistan (2007) outlines the basic right of workers to receive compensation for workplace injuries or occupational illnesses. This includes medical expenses, payments for temporary or permanent disability, and compensation to the family in case of a worker's death. However, there are challenges to compensation. Workers in informal sectors are unlikely to be covered. Workers may find it difficult to provide evidence linking their injury or illness directly to their workplace. Even if compensation is awarded, consistent enforcement of payment by employers may be problematic.

Additional Considerations

Employers may be required to have some form of workplace accident insurance, though the extent to which this is mandated and enforced is unclear. Workplaces should have basic first aid provisions, but in Afghanistan, this is likely inconsistent. The Labor Law mandates the keeping of workplace accident records, which can help with claims, but enforcement is likely very weak.

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