Employer, employee OSH responsibilities explained

THE duties of employers, supervisors and workers, in relation to accident prevention, are spelt out in the National Social Security Authority (Accident Prevention and Workers’ Compensation Scheme) Notice, 1990. So too are the duties of manufacturers, designers and suppliers.

These duties are spelt out in the Third Schedule of the notice, which was gazetted as Statutory Instrument 68 of 1990.

The list of employer’s duties is long. No less than 18 are listed. The employer is required to ensure that equipment, material and protective devices that are prescribed for his class of business are provided for the protection of workers’ safety and health and maintained in good condition.

The employer must ensure that such equipment, material and protective devices are used as prescribed.

The employer is also required to ensure that safety and health measures and procedures prescribed for his class of business are carried out in the workplace. Any occupational health services that may be prescribed for workers must be established too. The provision and maintenance of occupational health services must accord with prescribed standards.

Accurate records of the handling, storage, use and disposal of biological, chemical or physical agents as may be prescribed must be kept. The NSSA general manager must be notified of the use or introduction into a workplace of such agents. Any monitoring and records of the use of these agents that is prescribed must be maintained. The employer must ensure that prescribed standards limiting the exposure of a worker to these agents are enforced.

Where so prescribed, only a worker who has undergone prescribed medical examinations, tests or X-rays and been found to be physically fit to do the work in the workplace may be permitted to do it.

The employer must ensure that the worker is provided with instructions on measures and procedures to be taken for protection against safety or health risks. These instructions must be given in writing or in a manner or language understood by the majority of workers at the workplace.

The employer must also ensure that occupational safety and health training programmes are carried out at the workplace or that workers are released to attend such training programmes during working hours. He must ensure that a worker is provided with information, instruction and supervision to protect his or her safety and health.

He or she must prepare and regularly update a written policy that addresses safety and health problems at the workplace and develop and maintain a programme for implementation of that policy.

He must also ensure that a safety committee is established and afford the committee the assistance and cooperation necessary for it to carry out its functions. He must appoint a supervisor or safety and health representative to take every necessary measure to ensure the safety and health of workers.

The duties of workers in respect of safety and health are set out in eight paragraphs.

A worker is required to report to the employer, supervisor or safety and health representative the absence of or defect in any equipment or protective device that he or she is aware of which may endanger him or any other worker.

He or she is also required to report to any one of them any contravention of the Accident Prevention and Workers’ Compensation Scheme that he or she is aware of.

He or she must undergo, at the employer’s expense, any medical examinations, tests or X-rays that are prescribed at such times and places as are prescribed.

The worker must comply with any requirements that may be prescribed for his or her safety and health. He or she must use or wear the equipment, protective devices or clothing that the employer requires be used or worn.

He or she must not remove or make ineffective any protective device prescribed or required by the employer without providing an adequate temporary protective device. When the need for removing the protective device or making it ineffective has ceased, the protective device or clothing must be immediately replaced.

A worker must not use or operate any equipment, machine, device or anything else or carry out any work in a manner that might endanger him or her or any other worker.

He or she must not remove from the workplace protective devices or clothing for purposes unconnected with the protection of the worker at work.

A supervisor or safety and health representative must ensure that a worker adheres to safety and health measures and procedures and works with the protective devices and clothing that are intended to ensure his or her safety and health.

He or she must ensure that protective equipment, devices and clothing provided by the employer are used or worn.

He or she must ensure that a worker reports and investigates accidents and identifies potential hazards to workers’ safety and health. He or she must also ensure the worker is advised of the existence of any potential or actual danger to safety and health that he or she is aware of.

The supervisor or safety and health representative must, where this is prescribed, ensure the worker is provided with instructions as to the measures and procedures to be taken for his or her protection.

He or she must ensure the worker takes every precaution necessary in the circumstances for his or her protection as a worker.

Anyone designing, manufacturing, importing, selling or hiring out any machinery, implement, safety equipment or other technical devices must take steps to ensure that adequate security is afforded against risks to safety and health. When delivered the equipment should be accompanied by the necessary information and instructions on its assembly, use and maintenance.

Anyone manufacturing, importing or selling a substance liable to cause risks to safety or health is required to take measures to prevent or counteract any safety and health hazards resulting from the use, handling and storage of the substance.

Talking Social Security is published weekly by the National Social Security Authority as a public service. There is also a weekly radio programme on social security, PaMhepo neNssa/Emoyeni le NSSA, at 6.50 pm every Thursday on Radio Zimbabwe and Friday on National FM. Readers can e-mail issues they would like dealt with in this column to [email protected] or text them to 0772-307913. Those with individual queries should contact their local NSSA office or telephone NSSA on (04) 706523/5, 706545/9, or 799030/1

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