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Health and Safety Standards

Explore workplace health and safety laws in Ethiopia

Health and safety laws

Health and safety laws are a crucial part of any working environment. In Ethiopia, these laws are primarily governed by the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (1995), Labour Proclamation No. 1156/2019 (as amended), and Council of Ministers Regulations No. 431/2020. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MOLSA) is the primary authority responsible for overseeing health and safety policy, enforcement, and development.

Key Legislation and Regulatory Bodies

The Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (1995) provides fundamental rights, including the right of workers to healthy and safe working conditions (Article 41(7)), rights of Labor, detailing specific protections, and the right to form and join trade unions (Article 42), and outlines the power of the federal government to formulate and implement economic, social, and developmental policies, including those relating to health and safety (Article 92).

Labour Proclamation No. 1156/2019 (as amended) establishes rights and obligations for employers and workers. Key sections on health and safety include Part Six: Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Environment, Section 92: General health and safety obligations of employers, and Sections 96-109: Detailed health and safety provisions on hazardous substances, machinery, workplace design, personal protective equipment (PPE), first aid, etc.

Council of Ministers Regulations No. 431/2020 was issued to define specific regulations and implementation procedures under the Labour Proclamation.

Specific Areas of Regulation

Health and safety laws cover a wide range of areas, including workplace conditions, hazard prevention and control, machinery and equipment safety, chemical safety, electrical safety, personal protective equipment (PPE), first aid and medical care, emergency preparedness, occupational health services, training and information, and recordkeeping and reporting.

Worker Rights and Participation

Workers have the right to refuse unsafe work without facing discrimination (Labour Proclamation, Article 93). They and their representatives also have the right to be involved in health and safety decision-making through safety and health committees and trade union involvement.

Enforcement Mechanisms

Enforcement of health and safety laws is carried out by MOLSA, which has labour inspectors who can investigate workplaces, issue improvement notices, and take enforcement actions, including fines and closure orders. Disputes can be resolved through mediation, arbitration, or labor courts.

Occupational health and safety

Occupational health and safety (OHS) is a crucial aspect of labor rights in Ethiopia, as outlined in the Ethiopian Constitution and Labor Proclamation No. 1156/2019. These laws mandate employers to provide safe workplaces, machinery, systems of work, personal protective equipment (PPE), medical examinations, OHS training, and accident reporting. Workers, on the other hand, have the right to refuse unsafe work, participate in OHS decision-making, and access OHS information.

Occupational Safety and Health Standards

Ethiopia's OHS standards address a variety of workplace hazards and conditions. These include hazard identification and risk assessment, machine safety, chemical safety, noise exposure, ergonomics, personal protective equipment (PPE), and first aid and emergency response.

Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment

Employers are required to identify potential workplace hazards and assess risks to implement preventative measures.

Machine Safety

Standards address machinery guarding, maintenance, and safe operating procedures.

Chemical Safety

Regulations exist for handling, labeling, storage, and disposal of hazardous chemicals.

Noise Exposure

Standards address noise levels, monitoring, and hearing protection.


Guidelines on reducing musculoskeletal disorders through workplace design and work methods.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Requirements on the provision and use of PPE.

First Aid and Emergency Response

Standards for first aid provision and emergency preparedness.

Challenges in Implementation and Enforcement

Ethiopia faces challenges in effectively implementing and enforcing OHS standards. These include limited resources, lack of awareness among employers and employees about their OHS rights and responsibilities, and difficulty applying OHS standards in the large informal economy.

Enhancing Occupational Health and Safety

Efforts to enhance OHS in Ethiopia must focus on strengthening regulatory capacity, raising awareness, providing support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and encouraging cooperation between government, employers, trade unions, and other stakeholders.

Workplace inspection

Workplace inspections are a crucial part of maintaining decent working conditions and ensuring compliance with labor laws in Ethiopia. The primary foundation for these inspections is the Labor Proclamation No. 1156/2019, which stipulates the rights and duties of both employers and workers concerning workplace conditions. The Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Environment (OSHWE) Directive further defines OSH standards and guides inspection processes.

The Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA) oversees all labor-related matters, including workplace inspections, nationwide. Regional Labor and Social Affairs Bureaus are regional offices that carry out inspections within their respective jurisdictions.

Workplace inspections in Ethiopia cover diverse areas, with a primary focus on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) and general working conditions. These include hazard identification and risk assessment, workplace hygiene and sanitation, personal protective equipment (PPE) provision and use, machine safety and guarding, fire safety and emergency preparedness, wages and working hours, employment contracts and records, leave provisions, child labor and forced labor prevention, and non-discrimination and harassment policies. Industries such as manufacturing, construction, and mining may have additional regulations and inspection criteria.

There's no fixed frequency mandated by law for workplace inspections in Ethiopia. The frequency is influenced by the workplace size and nature, with larger workplaces and those with higher inherent risks tending to be inspected more frequently. Allegations of labor violations can also trigger targeted inspections.

The inspection procedure typically involves a notice, an opening meeting, a walkthrough, a records review, a closing meeting, and an inspection report. Employers are typically mandated to submit plans addressing identified deficiencies within specified timeframes. Re-inspections are conducted to verify compliance with corrective actions. Penalties and sanctions may be imposed for non-compliance, including fines, temporary closure, or even license revocation in severe cases.

Frequent, thorough inspections play a pivotal role in promoting safe and healthy work environments, ensuring fair labor practices, improving productivity and performance, and enhancing national development by supporting sustainable economic growth by protecting the workforce.

Workplace accidents

Workplace accidents in Ethiopia are governed by several legal provisions that dictate reporting requirements, investigation processes, and compensation claims.

Reporting Requirements

Under the Labour Proclamation of Ethiopia (Proclamation No. 1156/2019), employers are legally required to report occupational accidents and diseases to the relevant labor inspection office. The timelines for reporting vary depending on the severity of the accident. Fatal accidents, accidents resulting in serious bodily harm or multiple worker injuries must be reported immediately. Accidents that result in incapacity for work for more than three days should be reported within 24 hours.

Investigation Processes

The Labour Proclamation also mandates an investigation into any workplace accident that results in death or serious bodily harm. The investigation should identify the causes of the accident and measures to prevent similar incidents. Companies with more than 50 employees must establish Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Committees. These committees are crucial in investigating accidents and making recommendations to prevent future occurrences.

Compensation Claims

The Workers’ Compensation Proclamation (Proclamation No. 69/1997) provides a framework for employees to claim compensation for work-related injuries and illnesses. Under this Proclamation, employers are liable to provide compensation to workers who get injured during the course of their duties. Compensation includes medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and disability benefits (in case of permanent disability). In the event of death, compensation is payable to the deceased worker's dependents.

Procedures for Filing a Compensation Claim

The process for filing a compensation claim involves reporting and medical examination, assessment and determination, and payment. The injured worker or their dependents (in case of death) file a report with the appropriate authorities and undergo a medical examination. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA) or a designated body assesses the injury/illness and determines the compensation amount based on the severity. The employer is responsible for directly paying the compensation to the worker or dependents.

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