Health and Safety Laws
It is the responsibility of every employer to ensure the safety, health and welfare of all employees at work working in his/her workplace.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act, No. 15 of 2007 and revised in 2010, provides for the safety, health and welfare of workers and all persons lawfully present at workplaces.
What are obligations of the employer?
The responsibilities of the employer as per section 6 include to:
- Provide and maintain the plant and systems and procedures of work that are safe and without risks to health.
- Make arrangements for ensuring safety and the absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances.
- Provide for information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure the safety and health at work of every person employed.
- Maintain the workplace in a condition that is safe and without risks to health and provide and maintain necessary means of access to and egress (outlet) from it that are safe and without risks to health.
- Provide and maintain a working environment for every person employed that is safe, without risks to health, and adequate as regards facilities and arrangements for the employees’ welfare at work.
- Inform all employees of any risks from new technologies and imminent danger.
- Ensure that every person employed participates in the application and review of safety and health measures.
- Carry out appropriate risk assessments in relation to the safety and health of employees and, on the basis of these results, adopt preventive and protective measures to ensure that under all conditions of their intended use, all chemicals, machinery, equipment, tools and process under the control of the employer are safe and without risk to health and comply with the requirements of safety and health provisions in this Act.
- Send a copy of each risk assessment report to the area occupational safety and health officer.
- Take immediate steps to stop any operation or activity where there is an imminent and serious danger to safety and health and to evacuate all persons employed as appropriate.
- Register their workplace unless such workplace is exempted from registration under this Act.
Do I as an employee have any obligations?
Yes, the responsibilities of employees while at the workplace (section 13) include to:
- Ensure their own safety and health and that of other persons who may be affected by their acts or omissions at the workplace.
- Co-operate with their employer or any other person in the discharge of any duty or requirement imposed on the employer or that other person by this Act or any regulation made hereunder.
- At all times wear or use any protective equipment or clothing provided by the employer for the purpose of preventing risks to their safety and health.
- Comply with the safety and health procedures, requirements and instructions given by a person having authority over them for their own or any other person’s safety.
- Report to the supervisor any situation which they have reason to believe would present a hazard and which they cannot correct.
- Report to their supervisor any accident or injury that arises in the course of or in connection with his/her work.
- With regard to any duty or requirement imposed on their employer, to co-operate with the employer or other relevant person to enable that duty or requirement to be performed.
How can I, as a worker get protective clothing and appliances?
Section 101 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, requires that in workplaces where employees are exposed to wet or to any injurious or offensive substances, the employers must provide and maintain clothing and appliances that are adequate, effective and suitably protective, including, where necessary, suitable gloves, footwear, goggles and head coverings. Foe enforcement, the Director is required to register safety consultants to assess the suitability and effectiveness of such protective clothes and appliances.
In the same way section 102 provides that every employer supplies suitable goggles or effective screens to protect the eyes of persons involved in:
- Dry grinding of metals, or articles of metal, applied by hand to a revolving wheel or disc driven by mechanical power.
- Turning (external or internal) of non-ferrous metals, or of cast iron, or of articles of such metals or such iron, where the work is done dry, other than precision turning where the use of goggles or a screen would seriously interfere with the work, or turning by means of hand tools.
- Welding or cutting of metals by means of an electrical oxyacetylene or similar process.
The following processes when carried on by means of hand tools or other portable tools:
- Fettling of metal castings involving the remove of metal.
- Cutting out or cutting off (not including drilling or punching back) of cold rivets or bolts from boilers or other plant or from ships.
- Chipping or scaling of boilers or ships’ plates.
- Breaking or dressing of stone, concrete or slag.
How can I, as worker, get training in case I am inexperienced in working with machines or using a new technology in the workplace?
Section 99 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, specifies that a worker shall not be employed at any machine or in any process liable to cause ill health or bodily injury, unless he/she has been fully instructed as to the dangers likely to arise in connection therewith and has received sufficient training in work at the machine or in the process; or is under adequate supervision by a person who has a thorough knowledge and experience of the machine or process.
This training has to be carried out on recruitment; transfer or change of job; the introduction or change of new work equipment or materials; and the introduction of new technology. The training shall be adapted to take into account new changed risks, and be repeated periodically. The cost of training shall be incurred by the employer.
Can an employer be held responsible for injury suffered if a worker fails to fulfill his or her obligation?
No, 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.
Will an employer be punished if he/she fails to adhere to his obligation?
Yes, an employer who fails to comply with a duty imposed on him under this section commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding KES 500,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both
What action can I, as a worker take if I find myself in a situation in the workplace which presents danger to my life, safety and health?
An employee should immediately report to the immediate supervisor (senior person) any situation which the employee has reasonable grounds to believe presents an imminent or serious danger to the safety or health of that employee or of other employees in the same premises. Also, to get out of the place until the employer has taken remedial action. If necessary, the employer shall not require the employee to return to a workplace where there is continuing imminent or serious danger to safety or health (section 14 (1)).
Can my employer terminate the employment or withhold any of my remuneration if I, as a worker remove myself from danger?
No, an employee who has left a workplace, which the employee has reasonable justification to believe presents imminent and serious danger to life and health shall not be dismissed, discriminated against or disadvantaged for such action by the employer (section 14 (2)).
Can I, as an employee, report occupational accidents and diseases?
Yes, an employee is required to report any accident that occurs during employment either written or verbally to their employer, and to send a copy of the written notice or a notice of the verbal notice to the Director within twenty-four hours of the accident occurrence in the case of a fatal accident (Work Injury Benefits Act, 2007, section 21)
Must my employer report occupational accidents and diseases?
An employer is required to report an accident to the Director as soon as practical and not later than seven days after having received notice of an accident or having learned that an employee has been injured in an accident (Work Injury Benefits Act, 2007, section 22 (1)).
Is there payment to an employee when an accident/injury happen at workplace?
The Work Injury Benefits Act, No. 15 of 2007, provides for compensation to employees for work related injuries and diseases contracted in the course of their employment and for connected purposes.
Under the right to compensation (Part III) of Work Injury Benefits Act, an employee who is involved in an accident resulting in the employee’s disablement subject to the provisions of this Act, is entitled to the benefits provided for under this Act. The liability falls squarely on the employer. To deal with such liabilities an employer is obligated to obtain and maintain an insurance policy, with an insurer approved by the Minister in respect of any liability that the employer may incur under this Act to any of his employees (section 7).
Health and safety and regulations specific for women
No relevant provisions are identified specific to protection of female workers, though general protection is statutorily provided for both women and men as workers.