Safety and protection at work

Enzo Amuele
Safety and protection in a workplace differ depending on the type of work and industry. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states that an employer is responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace.
Many things can affect your safety and health at work. An employer should provide training about your risks at work and how you can protect yourself from them.
It is important to understand the risks you face at work. It is also important to know how to protect yourself from those risks. Many times, there are simple things you can do to prevent risk at work or to protect yourself from a risk that can’t be prevented.
Chapter 4 of the Labour Act, 2007 (Act No. 11 of 2007) and Regulations Relating to the Health and Safety of Employees at Work, made under the Labour Act, 1992 (Act No. 6 of 1992) places a legal duty upon employers to provide a healthy and safe working environment for the workers and any other person who might be affected by their operations.
According to the Namibia Employers’ Federation (NEF), occupational safety and health is a cross-disciplinary area concerned with protecting the safety, health and welfare of people engaged in work or employment. The goal of all occupational safety and health programmes is to foster a safe working environment.
Chantel van Wyk, safety officer at Namibia Media Holdings (NMH) says that she needs to do a monthly inspection within the building and report any faulty hazardous inspections.
“I must always ensure the safety of all employees and attend to injury on duty cases, and follow up until the injured persons have fully recovered,” she says.
Van Wyk added that she ensures that all first aid and fire equipment are serviced yearly and inspected after usage to ensure there is enough stock.
“Employees should be aware of their surroundings and familiarise themselves with floor plans to avoid unnecessary health and safety issues,” she said.
However, as a secondary effect, it may also protect co-workers, family members, employers, customers, suppliers, nearby communities, and other members of the public who are impacted by the workplace environment.
According to the national occupational safety and health policy the rapid changes in economic growth, multiplication of new industries, employment patterns and job demands affect the world of work and pose safety and health challenges for workers.
These challenges require a sound occupational health and safety (OSH) system with informed preventive and enforcement strategies.
In general, basic occupational safety and health does exist in Namibia but efficiency levels can be improved by strengthening the national OSH system.
The policy further states that currently, OSH is administered by three authorities, namely the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation (MLIREC); the Ministry of Health and Social Services and the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
However, there is poor coordination among these ministries, which is negatively affecting the administration of OSH.
Authorities are challenged by a lack of resources to enforce the law. There is a lack of skilled OSH professionals and experts and there is no capacity development plan within the OSH field.
Most of the divisions and sections responsible for OSH at different authorities are not sufficiently funded, and some do not have budgets to execute their functions.


Nevertheless, according to the statistics from the MLIREC, a total number of 242 occupational accidents were reported from 2010 to 2018, of which 28% (68) resulted in fatalities. A total of 22 occupational accidents were reported to the MME from 2010 to 2017, of which 77% (17) were fatalities.
A substantial number of employers do not report accidents to the enforcement authorities, making these figures a significant underestimation of the full extent of work-related accidents. Poor reporting can be attributed to a combination of factors like ignorance, lack of awareness and fear of prosecution.
From 2010-to 2017, a total number of 30 169 occupational injuries, fatalities and diseases were reported to the Social Security Commission (SSC), of which 28 129 were reported from the private sector while 2 040 were reported from the government/public sector.
A total amount of N$4, 126, 559,669.27 was paid out for medical expenses and compensation for cases from the private sector, while N$3,087,564,327.89 was paid out for government cases.
The Employee Compensation Act, 1941 (Act No. 30 of 1941) makes provisions for the payment of compensation to employees who have suffered occupational diseases or sustained injuries arising from an accident at the workplace or in the course of employment. This Act is administered and enforced by Social Security Commission (SSC).


Allgemeine Zeitung 2023-06-07

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