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Health and Safety Standards

Explore workplace health and safety laws in Cameroon

Health and safety laws

Cameroon's health and safety laws are primarily guided by The Labour Code (Law No. 92/007 of 14 August 1992) and Order No. 039/ MTPS/IMT of 26 November 1984. These laws place several responsibilities on employers, including the general duty of care, provision of a safe work environment, risk assessment and prevention, worker training and information, incident and injury reporting, provision of first aid and medical facilities, and establishment of health and safety committees.

Employees in Cameroon also have rights and responsibilities regarding health and safety. These include the right to a safe workplace, the right to refuse unsafe work, the right to participate in health and safety management, the responsibility to follow safety regulations, and the responsibility to report hazards.

Specific Regulations and Standards

The Order No. 039/MTPS/IMT of 26 November 1984 provides specific regulations on workplace hygiene, machinery and equipment safety, handling of hazardous substances, and fire prevention and emergency response.

Enforcement and Penalties

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security is responsible for conducting workplace inspections to ensure compliance with health and safety laws. Employers found violating these laws can face fines, administrative sanctions, and in severe cases, business closure.

Important Considerations

The health and safety laws in Cameroon are continually evolving. Employers should stay updated on the latest regulations, orders, and standards. They should also seek specialized legal advice or consult with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security for clarification on any aspect of health and safety compliance.

Occupational health and safety

Occupational health and safety (OHS) standards in Cameroon are primarily defined in Order No. 039/ MTPS/IMT of 26 November 1984. These standards cover a broad spectrum of workplace health and safety areas.

Workplace Environment

Workspaces must have adequate ventilation systems to maintain clean air and appropriate temperature ranges. Proper lighting must be provided to avoid eyestrain and to ensure safe and clear visibility in all work areas. Workplaces must have access to clean toilets, washing facilities, and safe drinking water. Regular cleaning and waste management practices must be implemented.

Hazard Prevention and Control

Machinery and equipment must be fitted with necessary safety guards, regularly inspected, and maintained in good condition. Workers must be trained in the safe operation of equipment. Fire prevention measures must be in place, including fire extinguishers, emergency exits, and evacuation plans. Fire drills should be conducted regularly. Electrical installations and equipment must be regularly inspected and maintained by qualified personnel. Appropriate safety procedures must be followed to prevent electrical hazards. Hazardous chemicals must be properly labeled, stored, and handled according to established guidelines. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) should be available, and employees should receive appropriate training. Employers must provide suitable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as necessary based on the nature of the work.

Occupational Health Surveillance

Employers may be required to arrange pre-employment medical examinations and periodic checkups for workers, especially those exposed to specific occupational risks or hazards. Employers may be obligated to monitor workplace conditions for exposure to harmful substances, noise levels, and other potential hazards.

Industry-Specific Standards

Cameroon has developed additional regulations and standards addressing specific hazards in different industries. For construction, regulations specifically address safety requirements on construction sites, including fall protection, scaffolding safety, and the use of heavy equipment. In mining, specific regulations focus on ground control, ventilation, mine rescue procedures, and the handling of explosives. For agriculture, standards address pesticide safety, the safe use of machinery, and safety measures for working with livestock.

Best Practices and Recommendations

Beyond the minimum regulatory standards, it's recommended to conduct regular risk assessments to proactively identify potential hazards and develop tailored prevention strategies. Providing comprehensive OHS training to all employees and ensuring ongoing refresher courses are scheduled is also advised. Encouraging employee participation in identifying hazards, developing safety measures, and participating in health and safety committees is beneficial. It's also important to thoroughly investigate accidents and near-misses to identify root causes and implement corrective actions.

Workplace inspection

Workplace inspections play a critical role in ensuring a safe and healthy work environment. They are primarily aimed at verifying compliance with safety standards, identifying potential hazards, promoting awareness about safety practices, and deterring non-compliance through the potential for penalties.

Conducting Inspections

Workplace inspections are primarily carried out by labor inspectors from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. These inspectors have the authority to enter workplaces without prior notice. The inspections focus on compliance with safety regulations across the workplace environment, machinery and equipment, hazardous substances, and fire safety. They also check the availability and use of personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as first aid facilities. The frequency of inspections varies based on factors such as the size and nature of the workplace, the workplace's past safety record, and specific concerns or complaints raised. Workers or their representatives can accompany inspectors during a workplace inspection.

Follow-up Actions

Based on inspection findings, labor inspectors may take several actions. If violations are found, inspectors issue notices with a deadline for corrective actions. Employers can face fines for failing to comply with safety regulations or obstructing inspections. In cases of serious or repeated violations, inspectors can order the temporary closure of workplaces or parts of the business. Inspectors may also provide advice and guidance to employers for improving safety practices and standards within the workplace.

Additional Notes

Employees have the right to report workplace hazards to labor inspectors and request inspections. On the other hand, employers may contest the findings of inspections or the penalties imposed through administrative channels or legal mechanisms.

Workplace accidents

Workplace accidents are a serious concern and employers have a legal obligation to report them. Serious accidents or fatalities must be reported immediately, while less severe accidents typically have a reporting deadline of 48 hours. Employers are also obliged to maintain records of all workplace accidents and injuries, regardless of their severity. These records should include details of the incident, the injured worker, and the actions taken.

Investigating Workplace Accidents

The primary responsibility for immediate accident investigation lies with the employer. This involves securing the accident scene, collecting witness statements, examining equipment or materials involved, and identifying the underlying cause of the accident to prevent recurrence. Labor inspectors may conduct further investigations, especially in the case of serious accidents.

Compensation Claims

Cameroon's social security system provides compensation for work-related injuries and occupational diseases. Injured workers must file claims with the National Social Insurance Fund (CNPS - "Caisse Nationale de Prévoyance Sociale"). Compensation may include medical expenses coverage, temporary or permanent disability benefits, and survivor benefits in case of fatalities.

Additional Considerations

Employers must provide first aid facilities and ensure workers are trained in basic first aid procedures. There should be protocols for injured workers reintegration into the workplace, potentially with modified duties or accommodations. The emphasis should always be on proactive measures to prevent accidents through hazard identification, risk assessments, and the implementation of safety controls.

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