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Health and Safety Standards

Explore workplace health and safety laws in Dominica

Health and safety laws

Dominica acknowledges the importance of maintaining health and safety standards in the workplace to ensure the welfare of its workers. The foundation for this framework is provided by several key pieces of legislation:

  • Employment Safety Act (Chapter 89:03): This act is the cornerstone of Dominica's health and safety legislation. It outlines employer and employee responsibilities, establishes the right to refuse unsafe work, and details methods for preventing workplace hazards.
  • Environmental Health Services Act (No. 8 of 1997): This act addresses public health, environmental hygiene, sanitation, food safety, and pollution control.
  • Pesticides Control Act (No. 14 of 1974): This act regulates the import, distribution, sale, and use of pesticides to mitigate potential risks to human health and the environment.

General Duties of Employers

In Dominica, employers have a fundamental obligation to provide a safe and healthy working environment. This includes:

  • Provision of safe workplaces and equipment: Employers must keep work premises and equipment in a safe condition and provide safety equipment and protective clothing when necessary.
  • Safe systems of work: Employers must develop and implement safe procedures to mitigate risks and prevent accidents in the workplace.
  • Information, instruction, and training: Employers must ensure employees receive adequate instruction, training, and supervision to enable them to perform their duties safely.
  • Hazard identification and control: Employers must systematically identify workplace hazards and implement suitable safety controls to protect workers.

Rights and Responsibilities of Employees

Employees in Dominica also have a role in maintaining workplace health and safety:

  • Following safety guidelines: Employees must adhere to established safety rules and procedures, and use any safety equipment provided to them.
  • Reporting hazards: Employees must bring any unsafe situations or potential hazards in the workplace to the attention of their employer.
  • The right to refuse unsafe work: Employees can refuse work if they believe it poses a serious and imminent risk to their health or safety.
  • Cooperation: Employees are expected to cooperate with their employer and safety representatives in health and safety matters.

Specific Health & Safety Regulations

Dominica's health and safety legislation includes provisions to address various occupational and environmental risks:

  • Workplace sanitation: Employers must provide and maintain adequate toilet facilities, handwashing stations, and drinking water for employees.
  • Noise control: Measures must be in place to protect workers from excessive noise levels in the workplace.
  • Control of hazardous substances: Employers must identify, assess, and control exposure to hazardous substances that could potentially harm workers.
  • Fire safety: Workplaces should be equipped with appropriate fire safety equipment and procedures for emergency evacuation.

Enforcement and Monitoring

The Ministry of National Security, Immigration, and Labour, particularly its Labour Division, is primarily responsible for enforcing health and safety legislation in Dominica. The Environmental Health Department within the Ministry of Health also plays a role in monitoring environmental health and enforcing regulations relating to sanitation and pollution control.

Staying informed on the ongoing development of health and safety legislation is crucial. For the most current information, always consult the official sources offered through Dominica's government agencies.

Occupational health and safety

Occupational health and safety (OHS) is a priority in the Commonwealth of Dominica, with the country actively working to ensure safe and healthy working conditions across all industries. This not only protects the workforce but also promotes sustainable economic development.

Dominica's OHS framework is guided by several key pieces of legislation and regulations. These include the Accidents and Occupational Diseases (Notification) Act, the Employment Safety Act, and the Labour Standards Act. These laws mandate the reporting of workplace accidents and diseases, outline the responsibilities of employers and employees in maintaining safe working environments, and provide a broad foundation of workers' rights, including health, safety, and welfare within the workplace.

Several institutions play a crucial role in the administration and enforcement of OHS in Dominica. The Division of Labour, within the Ministry of Employment, Trade, Innovation and Diaspora Affairs, is the primary agency responsible for OHS. The Environmental Health Department and the Dominica Bureau of Standards also play key roles in promoting and enforcing workplace health and safety measures.

Employers in Dominica have several responsibilities under the OHS framework. These include providing safe work environments, offering safety information and training, supplying personal protective equipment (PPE), identifying and managing workplace hazards, ensuring adequate welfare facilities, and reporting and investigating incidents.

Workers also have rights and responsibilities under the OHS framework. They have the right to refuse unsafe work and to participate in OHS matters. They also have the responsibility to cooperate with employers in meeting OHS obligations and to use provided PPE where required.

Workplace inspection

Workplace inspections are a crucial part of maintaining a safe and healthy work environment. They are conducted by the Labor Division of the Ministry of Immigration, Labour and Justice, through the Labour Inspection Unit. The primary focus of these inspections is to ensure workplaces comply with safety and health standards to protect workers from hazards.

Inspection Criteria

Workplace inspections assess various aspects of the work environment. These include:

  • Physical conditions such as the structure, machinery, equipment, lighting, ventilation, and sanitation.
  • The presence and handling of hazardous substances like chemicals, gases, and biological agents.
  • Work processes, including risk assessment, safe work practices, and accident prevention measures.
  • Workforce welfare, including first aid provisions, personal protective equipment, and rest breaks.
  • Records and documentation, such as accident reports, safety policies, and training records.

Inspection Frequency

The frequency of inspections varies depending on the industry risk and the workplace's prior compliance record. High-risk workplaces may be inspected more frequently. Inspections can also be triggered by complaints or accidents.

Follow-up Actions

If violations are found during an inspection, several actions may be taken:

  • Improvement Notices are issued for minor violations, requiring the employer to take corrective action within a specified time frame.
  • Prohibition Notices are issued for serious hazards that pose an immediate risk, ordering the cessation of work until the issue is rectified.
  • In severe cases, employers may face legal action for severe violations or failure to comply with notices.

Workplace inspections are not limited to safety and health. Other types of inspections include Environmental Inspections conducted by the Environmental Health Department to ensure compliance with environmental regulations, and Fire Safety Inspections performed by the Fire and Ambulance Service for fire code compliance and hazards.

Workplace accidents

Workplace accidents are serious incidents that require immediate attention and appropriate action. Employers have a responsibility to report such accidents to the Labour Commissioner. This includes disabling accidents that prevent an employee from performing their regular duties for more than three days, fatal accidents, and dangerous occurrences that had the potential to cause injury.

Reporting Timeframes

Employers must report disabling accidents within 7 days of the incapacity becoming apparent. Reports of fatal accidents and dangerous occurrences must be submitted to the Labour Commissioner as soon as possible.

Reporting Formats

Employers must usually use a prescribed form available from the Labour Division. Reports generally require details of the accident, injured person, injury type, and other relevant circumstances.

Workplace Accident Investigations

The Labour Commissioner has the authority to initiate investigations into accidents or dangerous occurrences to determine cause and preventative steps. The Labour Commissioner or persons authorized by them may enter any workplace where an incident took place, carry out examinations or tests, interview relevant individuals, and require involved parties to produce relevant documents.

Compensation Claims

Dominica utilizes a social security scheme as the primary system for compensation for work-related injuries or diseases. To be eligible for compensation benefits from Dominica Social Security, workers must be registered contributors to the system. The types of benefits include Injury Benefit (Temporary incapacity), Disablement Benefit (Permanent incapacity), and Death Benefit (For dependents of the deceased worker).

Claim Process

The employer has the initial responsibility to submit a report of an accident to Social Security. The injured worker (or dependents, in case of fatal accidents) must contact Dominica Social Security for further procedures and submission of required documentation.

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