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Health and Safety Standards

Explore workplace health and safety laws in Eswatini

Health and safety laws

In Eswatini, there are several significant laws and regulations aimed at protecting the health and safety of workers and the public. These laws strive to establish safe workplaces, foster healthy environments, and prevent accidents and work-related diseases.

Key Legislation

Occupational Safety and Health Act, 2001 (Act No. 9 of 2001)

This is the primary legislation for safety and health in Eswatini. It outlines the requirements for employers and employees to maintain a safe and healthy work environment. The Act covers issues such as hazard identification and control, provision of personal protective equipment (PPE), emergency preparedness, accident reporting and investigation, and worker training and education.

Factories, Machinery and Construction Works Act, 1972 (Act No. 17 of 1972)

This Act focuses on factory settings, machinery use, and construction work. It regulates working conditions in these potentially hazardous environments. The Act includes provisions for the registration of factories, safety standards for machinery, workplace layout and design, and building and construction safety.

Public Health Act, 1969

This Act addresses broader public health concerns relevant to workplace environments. It contains provisions focusing on the prevention of communicable diseases, sanitation and hygiene standards, and food safety and handling.

Specific Regulations

Eswatini supplements primary legislation with regulations that detail specific health and safety standards. Some important regulations include the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations, 2008 (issued under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, 2001) and the Factories (General) Regulations, 1973 (issued under the Factories, Machinery, and Construction Works Act, 1972).

Responsibilities of Employers

Employers in Eswatini have a wide range of health and safety responsibilities. These include risk assessment, implementing control measures to eliminate or minimize risks, providing workers with information and training on health and safety procedures, reporting accidents, diseases, and dangerous occurrences to the relevant authorities, and cooperating and consulting with workers on health and safety matters.

Responsibilities of Employees

Employees also play a role in upholding safety standards. They are responsible for following safe practices, reporting hazards to their employer, and participating in required safety training programs.

Government Enforcement

The Department of Labor within the Ministry of Labor and Social Security is primarily responsible for enforcing health and safety legislation in Eswatini. Labor inspectors have the authority to conduct workplace inspections, issue improvement notices, and impose penalties for non-compliance.

Evolving Landscape

Health and safety laws in Eswatini are continuously developing. It's essential for both businesses and workers to stay up-to-date on the latest regulations and best practices to ensure everyone's safety and well-being.

Occupational health and safety

Occupational health and safety (OHS) is a crucial aspect of any workplace, and in Eswatini, it is governed by two primary legal frameworks. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (2001) is a foundational act that outlines provisions for safety and health in workplaces, addressing matters like employer and employee responsibilities, hazard identification and control, and occupational accident and disease reporting. The Factories, Machinery and Construction Works Act (1972), while older, still holds relevance to OHS management, covering registration of factories, regulation of working conditions, and machinery safety standards.

Regulatory Bodies

Two main bodies oversee the implementation and enforcement of OHS legislation in Eswatini. The Ministry of Labour and Social Security is responsible for the overall supervision, while the Department of Labour, Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate Unit, a unit within the Ministry, conducts inspections, investigates accidents, and promotes OHS compliance.

Key Occupational Health and Safety Standards

Eswatini's OHS standards focus on preventing workplace injuries, fatalities, and illnesses. Key areas include hazard identification and risk assessment, workplace safety measures, occupational health, emergency preparedness and response, training and education.

Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment

Employers must identify hazards, evaluate their associated risks, and implement effective control measures. This hierarchy of controls should be followed: elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Workplace Safety Measures

Workplace safety measures include machine safety, fire safety, electrical safety, ergonomics, and chemical safety. These measures ensure adequate guarding, maintenance, and safe operating procedures for machinery, fire prevention, emergency plans, and fire-fighting equipment, proper electrical installation, safety procedures, and hazard labeling, design of workstations and tasks to prevent musculoskeletal disorders, and safe handling, storage, and disposal of hazardous chemicals.

Occupational Health

Occupational health focuses on occupational disease prevention, medical surveillance, and first aid. This involves monitoring worker exposure to harmful substances and implementing necessary controls, health examinations for workers in high-risk occupations, and provision of first-aid facilities and trained personnel.

Emergency Preparedness and Response

Employers are required to develop and implement emergency plans for potential accidents and disasters.

Training and Education

Employers must provide OHS training and information to employees on hazards, safe work procedures, and emergency response.

Challenges and Improvement Areas

Despite the robust OHS regulatory system in Eswatini, there are challenges and areas for improvement. These include limited resources, which may impact the ability to enforce regulations comprehensively, the informal sector, where OHS regulation and implementation can be challenging due to its unstructured nature, and the need for continuous efforts to raise awareness of OHS laws and practices among both employers and employees.

Workplace inspection

Workplace inspections play a vital role in maintaining health and safety standards in workplaces across Eswatini. These inspections are primarily guided by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 2001 and aim to identify and mitigate hazards, prevent accidents and illnesses, ensure compliance with regulations, and promote a culture of safety.

Workplace Inspection Procedures

Workplace inspections in Eswatini typically involve several steps. These include initiation, which can be triggered by scheduled visits, complaints, reported accidents, or observed risks. In most cases, the employer will receive prior notification of an inspection, although unannounced inspections may also be conducted.

During the inspection, authorized inspectors from the Department of Labor have the right to enter any workplace. They will examine work areas, equipment, and processes, interview employees and employers, and review records and documents such as accident logs and training records. After the inspection, the inspector will discuss their findings with the employer and provide recommendations for corrective actions. A formal inspection report may also be issued, detailing identified hazards and required corrective actions.

Inspection Criteria and Frequency

Inspection criteria, guided by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 2001, may include physical hazards, chemical hazards, biological hazards, ergonomic hazards, fire and emergency preparedness, personal protective equipment (PPE), and recordkeeping and reporting. The frequency of inspections depends on factors like industry risk, past inspection history, and resource availability. High-risk sectors might have more frequent inspections.

Follow-up Actions

Employers are legally obligated to implement necessary corrective measures within specified time frames outlined in the inspection report. Inspectors may issue improvement notices requiring corrective actions or prohibition notices to stop unsafe activities. Follow-up inspections may be conducted to ensure compliance. Failure to comply with regulations or address identified hazards can result in fines or even legal prosecution.

Workplace accidents

Workplace accidents in Eswatini are subject to specific protocols, including reporting, investigation, and compensation.

Reporting Workplace Accidents

Employers are legally obligated to report workplace accidents to the Labour Commissioner. This reporting must adhere to the guidelines set by the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1963. The types of accidents that must be reported include those resulting in the death of a worker and those leading to an employee's absence from work for at least three full consecutive days.

For serious injuries or death, employers must report these immediately. Other reportable accidents must be reported within seven days of the accident. Employers use the designated Workmen's Compensation forms for reporting.

Investigation of Workplace Accidents

The Labour Commissioner is responsible for conducting workplace accident investigations. The purpose of these investigations is to understand the causes of the accident, identify preventive measures, and assess potential liability and compensation eligibility. Investigations may involve interviews with involved employees and witnesses, examinations of the accident scene, inspections of relevant equipment and machinery, and scrutiny of safety records and procedures.

Compensation Claims

Employees injured in workplace accidents or their family members (in case of death) may be entitled to compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1963. Compensation can include medical expenses related to the injury, temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, and survivor benefits in cases of fatality.

The claim process involves workers notifying their employer as soon as possible following the injury. Employers then submit the accident report forms along with supporting documentation to the Labour Commissioner. The Labour Commissioner assesses the claim, and upon approval, issues compensation as determined by the Workmen's Compensation Act.

It is strongly advised to consult directly with legal professionals and the Eswatini Department of Labour for the most accurate and up-to-date information on specific cases and legal processes.

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