Rivermate | Bermuda flag


Health and Safety Standards

Explore workplace health and safety laws in Bermuda

Health and safety laws

Bermuda's health and safety laws are primarily focused on workplace safety, with a robust legal system that establishes safety standards, procedures, and responsibilities for employers and employees.

Key Legislation

The Occupational Safety and Health Act 1982 is the foundational law for workplace health and safety in Bermuda. It outlines the rights and duties for employers and workers, as well as enforcement mechanisms. The Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 2009 supplement the Act, providing detailed requirements on subjects like workplace hazards, safety equipment, and accident reporting.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers in Bermuda have extensive responsibilities under the health and safety laws. These include providing a safe workplace, maintaining safe equipment, providing information and training, and establishing a safety committee for workplaces with over 20 employees.

Employee Rights and Responsibilities

Bermudian workers have several rights and responsibilities regarding workplace safety. These include the right to refuse unsafe work, the right to participate in safety processes, the responsibility to follow safe procedures, and the responsibility to report hazards.

Specific Areas of Regulation

Occupational health and safety regulations in Bermuda cover a wide variety of specific areas, including chemical, biological, and physical hazards, ergonomics, construction safety, and first aid and incident reporting.

Enforcement and Penalties

The Department of Health, primarily the Occupational Safety and Health Office, enforces occupational safety laws. Enforcement actions can include inspections, improvement notices, prohibition notices, and penalties and fines for employers or individuals violating the Act or regulations.

Occupational health and safety

Occupational health and safety is a critical aspect of any workplace. It involves various elements, including risk assessments, safe work procedures, personal protective equipment (PPE), and incident reporting and investigation. Employers are responsible for conducting regular risk assessments to identify and mitigate hazards. They must also establish clear, documented safe work procedures for potentially hazardous activities and ensure workers are trained to follow these procedures. The provision and use of appropriate PPE based on work tasks and identified hazards is also a key responsibility of employers.

Hazard-Specific Standards

Chemical Safety

Chemical safety in the workplace involves maintaining readily available Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for all hazardous chemicals present. Hazardous substances must be clearly labeled and stored in designated areas with appropriate safeguards. Employees involved with hazardous chemicals require specific training on handling, PPE usage, and emergency procedures.

Noise Control

Noise control measures include adhering to maximum permissible noise levels, monitoring noise levels, and implementing engineering modifications where levels exceed the limits. When noise reduction is not feasible, workers must be provided with hearing protection equipment and trained for its proper use.

Confined Spaces

Working in confined spaces is subject to strict regulations, often requiring an entry permit system outlining precautions and specific approval. Mandatory air quality testing within confined spaces is required before and during entry. Where possible, forced ventilation systems should be used to ensure adequate air quality. Workers entering confined spaces must also be trained in rescue procedures, and appropriate rescue equipment must be on hand.

Electrical Safety

Electrical safety involves ensuring only qualified electricians perform electrical work and that installations comply with relevant electrical codes. Strict procedures must be in place for isolating and de-energizing electrical equipment before maintenance or repairs. Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are mandated in areas with increased electrical shock risks.

Health and Wellness

Health and wellness in the workplace encompass first aid, ergonomics, workplace hygiene, and mental health awareness. Employers must provide adequate first aid supplies and have trained first-aid personnel on-site. Ergonomic risks should be addressed with appropriately designed workstations, tools, and work practices to prevent musculoskeletal disorders. Measures should be in place to maintain sanitation and cleanliness, especially in food service or healthcare settings. While not explicitly mandated, progressive employers recognize the importance of workplace mental health support and may offer resources or initiatives.

Workplace inspection

Workplace inspections are a critical component in maintaining a safe and healthy work environment. They serve to identify potential hazards, verify compliance with safety standards, and promote a culture of safety awareness.

Inspection Authority

The authority to conduct workplace inspections typically lies with a designated department or office. Inspectors have broad powers, including the right to enter workplaces without prior notice, examine equipment, take samples, interview employees, and access relevant documentation.

Inspection Criteria

Workplace inspections cover various specific areas. These include general safety aspects such as housekeeping, emergency exits, fire safety, machine guarding, and electrical installations. Depending on the industry, inspections may also focus on specific hazards such as chemical safety, confined space procedures, fall protection, and noise control. Inspectors also review records on risk assessments, safety training, accident reports, and maintenance logs. Additionally, inspectors may speak with employees to gauge their understanding of safety procedures and identify potential concerns.

Inspection Frequency

The frequency of workplace inspections is not set and can vary based on several factors. High-risk sectors may face more frequent inspections. Inspections may also be driven by complaints of safety hazards or violations. Proactive initiatives may also lead to targeted inspection campaigns focusing on specific hazards or industries.

Follow-Up Actions

The results of a workplace inspection can lead to several outcomes. If no violations are found, the workplace will be commended on maintaining good safety practices. For minor violations, inspectors may issue an Improvement Notice, requiring the employer to rectify the problem within a specified period. If inspectors deem a serious and imminent danger exists, they can issue a Prohibition Notice, ordering immediate cessation of the hazardous activity until the issue is resolved. In cases of severe or repeated violations, legal proceedings may be initiated against the employer or individuals, potentially leading to fines or other penalties.

Workplace accidents

Workplace accidents are a serious concern that require immediate attention and appropriate action. Employers are legally required to report certain accidents, dangerous occurrences, and occupational illnesses. Fatal accidents and those causing serious injury must be reported immediately. Accidents resulting in an employee being away from work for more than three consecutive days must also be reported. Dangerous occurrences, which are near-misses with potential for serious harm, must be reported as well.

Accident Investigation

Employers have the responsibility to thoroughly investigate workplace accidents to identify the root cause and prevent recurrence. Investigations may examine the sequence of events leading to the accident, direct and indirect causes of the incident, potential breaches of safety procedures, and recommendations for corrective actions and preventative measures. Safety committees or employee representatives should play a role in accident investigations.

Compensation Claims

Bermuda has a statutory workers' compensation system. Most employers are required to carry workers' compensation insurance. Injured workers may be eligible for medical expenses coverage, wage replacement benefits (temporary or permanent disability), vocational rehabilitation if applicable, and survivor benefits in case of a fatal work accident. Injured workers should notify their employer of the injury as soon as possible. Employees will need to work with their employer and insurance company to file a compensation claim. Disputes related to claim eligibility or benefits may be resolved through administrative review or appeals processes with the relevant authorities.

Record Keeping and Prevention Focus

Employers must maintain detailed records of workplace accidents and injuries, even for minor incidents not reportable to authorities. Thorough accident investigation and analysis are vital for identifying systemic safety issues and implementing continuous improvement in workplace safety practices.

Rivermate | A 3d rendering of earth

Hire your employees globally with confidence

We're here to help you on your global hiring journey.