Promoting Occupational Health & Safety [Archives:1997/48/Business & Economy]
A special workshop was held in Sanaa during the 18th-20th of November to discuss the draft of a national plan for occupational health and safety. The workshop sessions were attended by the Ministers of Labor and Vocational Training, Public Health, representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Federation of Yemeni Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the General Association of Trade Unions, the Association of Agricultural Cooperatives, and several participants from various other bodies. The Ministry of Labor presented the draft of a comprehensive plan to cover all laborers in industry, agriculture, petroleum, and other branches in the public, private, and mixed sectors. The plan calls for providing the necessary equipment for monitoring chemical, physical, biological, and radiation activities. Special timetables were prepared to train special cadres to monitor and check occupational hazards, and to promote safety on the job. The plans also aim to raise the workers’ awareness on this vital issue. Due to the lack of an information-disseminating mechanism, two media specialists will be employed. Pushing ahead with the proposed plan is now subject to the availability of funds at the Ministry of Labor. Legislation on occupational health and safety is now complete. In addition to the general umbrella legislation, a special ministerial decree was issued concerning women workers, their pregnancy terms, and childbirth. The decree also stipulated the types and duration of work to be performed by women as well as strong limits on child labor. Another ministerial decree was issued concerning the use of inputs which could cause the five cancerous diseases, physical, chemical, dermatological, and pulmonary illnesses. A third decree was issued to regulate health concerns of foreign labor. It is no longer sufficient for foreign workers to hold a medical certificate from their own countries even if it is notarized by a Yemeni embassy. They now need to acquire a health certificate in Yemen. Due to the exceptional efforts made by the Minister of Labor and Vocational Training, Eng. Mohammed Al-Tayyib, $16,000 has been allocated by the Ministry of Finance for occupational health and safety equipment during 1998.
Decisions & Recommendations The participants at the workshop decided on the following. 1- The plan submitted by the Ministry of Labor was adopted with some amendments, modifications, and additions. 2- A separate, sufficient budget should be allocated by the Ministry of Labor to fund the General Directorate of Occupational Health and Safety (GDOHS) and its branches in different governorates. 3- Employers should contribute to special income organs for the benefit of occupational health and safety projects. 4- Financial support, training, and equipping should all be increased and diversified by the supporting and donor organizations. 5- A special income should be generated by the Union of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the General Association of Trade Unions, and the Fund for Vocational Training and Skills Development in order to enable the Departments of Occupational Health and Safety in different installations to do the following: a- provide first aid; b- fight fires and identify explosive materials; c- train production managers to reduce work-related injuries; d- train workers to properly and safely transfer and store poisonous, inflammable, and explosive materials, and the safe disposal of industrial waste; and e- train occupational health and safety committees in various installations to properly carry out their duties; 6- A supreme committee for occupational health and safety should be formed in accordance with the labor law. 7- Branches of the GDOHS in all governorates must be equipped with all necessary facilities, instruments, and staff to help them carry out their duties. 8- The GDOHS and its branches should be supplied with proper transport facilities necessary for field work. 9- Emergency plans must be made in coordination with the GDOHS by all employers to avoid industrial disasters, as much as possible. 10- All employers who correctly and meticulously implement the stipulated health and safety measures at their work places should be awarded with certificates of appreciation. 11- Financial resources should be made available for conducting field studies and surveys on work-related injuries and occupational ailments. 12- Conditions of compatibility between employer and employee should exist in order to achieve the safety of the workers and the work place and to avoid work-related injuries and occupational ailments. 13- Primary medical check-ups should be performed on would-be workers before joining the workforce. Regular medical check-ups should be performed on employees so as to keep up their health, ensure their safety, and discover any possible diseases or infections at an early stage. 14- Cooperation and coordination must exist among the work place’s three main parties in the fields of work-related accidents, hazards, and to reduce the rate of accidents. 15- Employers must keep updated records of work-related injuries and occupational ailments.