Health and Safety in the Workplace
It is the duty of an employer to ensure that every worker employed by him or her works under satisfactory, safe and healthy conditions.
Obligations of the Employer
An employer shall:
- Provide and maintain at the workplace systems of work that are safe and without risk to health;
- Ensure the safety and absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances;
- Provide the necessary information, instructions, training and supervision having regard to the age, literacy level and other circumstances of the worker to ensure the health and safety of those other workers engaged in the particular work;
- Take steps to prevent contamination of the workplace by, and protect the workers from, toxic gases, noxious substances, vapours, dust, fumes, mists and other substances or materials likely to cause risk to safety or health;
- Supply and maintain at no cost to the worker adequate safety appliances, suitable fire-fighting equipment, personal protective equipment, and instruct the workers in the use of the appliances or equipment;
- Provide separate, sufficient and suitable toilet and washing facilities and adequate facilities for storage;
- Provide an adequate supply of clean drinking water at the workplace; and
- Prevent accidents and injury to health arising out of or connected with work by minimizing the causes of hazards inherent in the working environment.
Obligation of the Employee
An employee shall:
- Use the safety appliances, fire-fighting equipment and personal protective equipment provided by the employer in compliance with the employers’ instruction.
What are the Duties of Employers under the Labour Act 651?
The duties of an employer include the duty to:
- Provide work and appropriate raw materials, machinery, equipment and tools.
- Pay the agreed remuneration at the time and place agreed on in the contract of employment or collective agreement or by custom without any deduction except deductions permitted by law as agreed between the employer and the worker.
- Take all practicable steps to ensure that the worker is free from risk of personal injury or damage to his or her health during and in the course of the worker’s employment or while lawfully on employers’ premises.
- Develop human resources by way of training and retraining of workers.
- Furnish the worker with a copy of the worker’s contract of employment.
- Keep open the channels of communication with workers, and protect the interest of workers.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I, as an employer, be held responsible for injury suffered if a worker fails to fulfill his or her obligation?
An employer shall not be liable for injury suffered if it is established that the injury is as a result of non-compliance by the worker.
If I, as an employer, fail to adhere to my obligation, will I be punished?
An employer who, without reasonable excuse, fails to discharge any of the obligations commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding 1000 penalty units or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both.
What action could a worker take if he or she finds himself or herself in a situation in the workplace which presents danger to his or her life, safety and health?
The worker should immediately report the situation to his or her immediate supervisor and remove himself or herself from the situation.
Can I, as an employer, terminate the employment or withhold any remuneration of a worker who removes himself or herself from danger?
No. An employer cannot dismiss or terminate the employment of a worker or withhold any remuneration of a worker who has removed himself or herself from a work situation which the worker has reasons to believe presents imminent and serious danger to his or her life, safety or health.
Must I, as an employer, report occupational accidents and diseases?
An employer is required to report as soon as practicable and not later that seven days from the date of the occurrence to the appropriate government agency, occupational accidents and diseases which occur in the workplace.
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