Occupational safety and health, on the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, 2021

Dr Musa Nyandusi Lwegado, Secretary, Directorate of Occupational Safety and Health, Ministry of Labour and Social Protection.

This year’s World day for Safety and Health is marked amid the Covid-19 pandemic with a call from the International Labour Organization (ILO) in the theme; ‘Anticipate, prepare and respond to crises - Invest Now in Resilient Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Systems’. In addition to efforts made to enhance safety and health in workplaces we are called upon to rise up to the occasion when a crisis knocks at our doors. The Covid-19 crisis has had hit the world of work in our country.

From the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic the Directorate of Occupational Safety and Health Services has been able to take its active role in ensuring that workplace hazards including those occasioned by the pandemic are mitigated. It is however important to note that delivery of the Directorate’s mandate was adversely affected due to the pandemic. Among the services affected were;

  1. Systematic inspections of workplaces to ensure compliance with Occupational Safety and Health legislation,
  2. Carrying out examinations & testing of pressurized vessels, lifting and refrigeration equipment to ensure their safety,
  3. Conducting medical examinations and surveillance on workers,
  4. Conducting training of workers and employers on occupational safety and health,
  5. Carrying out hygiene measurements,
  6. Doing Occupational Safety and Health risk assessments to identify risks with a view providing mitigation measures,
  7. Conducting audits at workplaces to check on ?re safety and also safety & health and
  8. Processing of claims in compensation to injuries sustained at workplaces

Directorate of Occupational Safety and Health Services in its mandate to fight Covid-19 at workplaces generated advisories including the following:  

1. Occupational Safety and Health measures for healthcare workers and other frontline workers exposed to covid-19 in Kenya which provided for Occupational Safety and Health Risk Assessments with emphasis on covid-19, Covid-19 Policies &Workplace Readiness, Compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act, 2007 (OSHA, 2007) and consequences thereof,  Safety and Health Audits, Protocol for Returning to Work Criteria for Healthcare Workers with SARS-CoV-2,  Provision and Safe Use of Effective Personal Protective and Equipment, Healthcare workers with Pre-existing Medical Conditions and Psychosocial Support to Healthcare Workers.

2. Occupational Safety and Health Post COVID-19 Return to Work Advisory providing for Assessment of Non-Essential Work and Working from Home, Commuting to Work, Safe Passage to and from Work, Workplace Safety and Health, Work Injury Insurance, Medical Examinations & Issuance of Certificates of Fitness, Health Risk Assessments for Returning Employees, Mental Health & Mental Well-being, Suspected & Confirmed Covid-19 Employees, Discrimination of Suspected and Confirmed Covid-19 Employees, Reporting of COVID-19 Positive Employees by Medical Practitioners, Registration of Workplaces, Workers with Pre-Existing Medical Conditions, Continuous Monitoring & Evaluation of Impact of COVID-19 on Workplace Safety and Health Conditions

3. Occupational Safety and Health Advisory to provide for Employees with Disabilities on Covid-19 with regards to Supporting the employees living with Disabilities on found with COVID-19 and the responsibilities of Employees living with Disabilities during the COVID-19 Crisis,

4. Occupational Safety and Health Advisory on Corona-virus (COVID-19) to provide a roadmap to workplaces in Kenya in the minimization of spread and reduction of the economic impact of corona-virus(COVID-19) in workplaces.

As we mark this year’s world day for safety and health, let us remember to work as a united front in the fight against corona-virus (COVID-19) by investing in Occupational Safety and Health at our workplaces.