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Health and Safety Standards

Explore workplace health and safety laws in Angola

Health and safety laws

Angola's health and safety legislation is influenced by its Portuguese colonial legacy and international standards set by organizations like the International Labour Organization (ILO). The Angolan Constitution guarantees workers the right to safe and hygienic working conditions. Decree No. 31/94 of August 5th establishes the Safety and Health at Work System, which is the primary framework addressing occupational hazards. Health and safety laws apply across various economic sectors, including state, mixed, private, and cooperative enterprises.

Key Legislation

Decree No. 31/94 of August 5th (Safety and Health at Work System) is a foundational decree that outlines employer responsibilities, worker rights, and mandates the formation of safety and health committees in workplaces with a certain number of employees. The General Labor Law (Law No. 7/15 of June 15th) contains provisions relevant to health and safety, reaffirms the employer's obligation to ensure worker safety and prevent harm, and discusses reporting, compensation, and investigation of workplace injuries and illnesses.

Sector-Specific Regulations

Specific sectors may be governed by additional regulations. These sectors frequently include construction, mining, and oil and gas. Each sector has regulations pertaining to its specific needs, such as scaffolding and fall protection in construction, mine safety and ventilation in mining, and offshore safety and drilling operations in oil and gas.

Enforcement and Compliance

The Ministry of Public Administration, Labour and Social Security (MAPTSS) is the primary body responsible for overseeing health and safety. Labor Inspectors are empowered to conduct workplace inspections, issue citations, and order corrective actions.

Challenges and Considerations

Angola's health and safety regulations continue to evolve, so it's essential for businesses to stay updated on the latest changes. Limited resources may hinder the enforcement of existing regulations. Ensuring health and safety standards in Angola's substantial informal economy remains a challenge.

Occupational health and safety

Occupational health and safety is a critical aspect of any workplace. It involves identifying and assessing workplace risks, which forms the foundation for developing appropriate prevention strategies. Common hazards include noise, vibration, extreme temperatures, hazardous substances, and ergonomic risks. Exposure to pathogens can occur in healthcare settings or industries handling animal products. Factors like workload, work pressure, and workplace violence are increasingly recognized as contributing to occupational health issues.

Risk Assessments

Employers are legally mandated to identify and assess workplace risks. This forms the foundation for developing appropriate prevention strategies.

Physical Hazards

Common hazards include noise, vibration, extreme temperatures, hazardous substances, and ergonomic risks. Regulations often specify exposure limits and control measures.

Biological Hazards

Exposure to pathogens can occur in healthcare settings or industries handling animal products. Protocols for infection control and handling biohazardous materials are crucial.

Psychosocial Hazards

Factors like workload, work pressure, and workplace violence are increasingly recognized as contributing to occupational health issues.

Protective Measures

Regulations may mandate the provision and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) depending on the hazards present. Employers should prioritize eliminating hazards through engineering solutions. Job rotation, work-rest schedules, and safety procedures can help reduce risks when hazards cannot be fully eliminated.

Occupational Health Surveillance

Employers may be obligated to facilitate periodic medical checkups for workers, focused on detecting potential early signs of work-related health problems. The frequency and scope of these exams vary by industry and exposure risks. Maintaining health and safety records, including workplace injuries, illnesses, and exposure data is essential for monitoring trends and identifying areas for improvement.

Incident Reporting and Investigation

Employers are required by law to report workplace accidents and occupational diseases to relevant authorities. Thorough investigations into incidents are crucial for preventing future occurrences. This should involve examining underlying causes and implementing corrective actions.

Rights and Responsibilities

Angolan law places the primary responsibility for ensuring a safe and healthy workplace on employers. This encompasses everything from hazard identification to providing resources and training. Workers have the right to information about hazards, to participate in safety and health matters, and to refuse unsafe work without facing repercussions. Legislation promotes worker participation through safety and health committees in larger workplaces. These committees have a role in consultation and monitoring safety performance.

Workplace inspection

Workplace inspections play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and well-being of employees. They serve as a primary mechanism for verifying whether employers are adhering to safety regulations, help identify potential workplace hazards and risks, and act as a deterrent for non-compliance. The inspection process can also raise awareness among both employers and workers about safety standards.

Role of Regulatory Authority

The General Labour Inspectorate (IGT), within the Ministry of Public Administration, Labour, and Social Security (MAPTSS), is responsible for workplace inspections across most sectors. Certain sectors, such as mining, might have additional dedicated inspectorates with specific expertise.

Inspection Criteria

Inspections typically assess a wide range of safety aspects, including compliance with specific regulations, risk management, emergency preparedness, training and awareness, and recordkeeping. Inspectors verify if the workplace adheres to standards on machine guarding, noise control, chemical handling, PPE provision, etc. They also evaluate the employer's risk assessment process and the adequacy of preventive measures.

Inspection Frequency

Inspection frequency may vary based on the perceived risks of a particular workplace or industry. High-risk sectors may undergo more frequent inspections. Inspections can also be triggered by worker complaints or reports of serious incidents.

Inspection Procedures

The inspection process usually starts with a notice, followed by an opening meeting involving the employer, workers' representatives, and the inspector. This is followed by a walkthrough of the workplace, involving observation, examination of documents, and potential interviews with workers and supervisors. The inspection concludes with a closing meeting where the inspector discusses preliminary findings and potential violations with the employer. A detailed report outlining the observations, any violations found, and recommendations for improvement is then prepared.

Follow-Up Actions

Inspectors can issue orders demanding the employer to address identified violations within a specified timeframe. Significant or repeated violations may result in fines or other penalties. In grave cases where imminent danger exists, inspectors may have the authority to order a temporary or partial workplace closure until hazards are rectified.

Workplace accidents

In Angola, employers are legally required to report workplace accidents to the competent authorities, as stipulated by the General Labor Law (Law No. 7/15 of June 15, 2015) and its regulations. The reporting timelines vary depending on the severity of the accident. Fatal accidents or serious injuries must be reported immediately to the General Labor Inspectorate (IGT) and relevant local authorities, while minor injuries should be reported within a reasonable timeframe. Reports should be submitted in writing, either in a physical or electronic format.

Investigation Processes

The General Labor Inspectorate (IGT) is primarily responsible for investigating workplace accidents in Angola. Upon receiving an accident report, the IGT will initiate an investigation. The investigation aims to determine the root causes of the accident, identify any violations of workplace health and safety regulations, and recommend corrective actions to prevent similar accidents in the future. The investigation process may involve interviews with the employer, employees, witnesses, and other relevant stakeholders. The IGT will issue an official investigation report outlining its findings and recommendations.

Compensation Claims

Angolan law mandates that employers obtain workers' compensation insurance to cover the costs of workplace accidents. Injured workers may be eligible for medical expenses, lost wages, disability benefits, and death benefits. Injured workers or their dependents must file a claim with the insurance company to initiate the compensation process. When disputes arise regarding compensation claims, the matter may be referred to the IGT or the courts for resolution.

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