Legal Compliance - Health and Safety Policies in a workplace
Legal compliance is the process through which an organization ensures compliance with the laws and regulations in the particular area of jurisdiction such an organization is based. In Kenya, for instance, every organization must comply with the laws within the Kenyan jurisdiction. Among the compliance issues that an organization has to consider are health and safety compliance issues to ensure the safety of employees in a place of work.
In Kenya, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 2007 was enacted to provide standards for the safety, health, and welfare of workers and all persons lawfully present at workplaces. The Act applies to all workplaces where any person is employed, whether temporarily or permanently, to ensure the safety of employees and other persons lawfully present at a workplace who might be exposed to safety risks arising out of the activities of persons at work.
The law places a duty on all employers to ensure the safety, health, and welfare at work of all persons working in the workplace. This includes, but is not limited to, the duty to: –
- Ensure the safety and absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling, storage, and transport of articles and substances;
- Provide such information, instruction, training, and supervision as is necessary to ensure the safety and health at work of every person employed;
- Maintain the place of work in a condition that is safe and without risks to health;
- Provide and maintain means of access to and egress from the work environment that are safe and without health risks;
- Inform all employees of any risks from new technologies and imminent danger; and
- Ensure every employee participates in the application and review of safety and health measures.
It is important to note that in every employment relationship, an employer has a duty of care to its employees. According to Winfield and Jolowicz on Tort, Seventeenth Edition, this means that the employer must take all reasonable care so as to carry on operations that do not subject employees to unnecessary risk, and includes the duty to provide competent staff, adequate plant, and equipment, a safe place of work and a safe system of working.
The aspect of a safe working environment was explained in the case of Sokoro Saw Mills Limited –Vs- Bernard Muthimbi Njenga Nakuru High Court Civil Appeal No. 38 of 1995 as quoted in Faith Mutindi Kasyoka v Safepark Limited  eKLR where the court stated that the duty of the employer to provide a safe place of work to the employee, comprises not merely to warn the employee against unusual dangers known to them but also make the place of employment as safe as the exercise of reasonable skill and care would permit.
Every employer must also carry out appropriate risk assessments about the safety and health of persons employed and adopt preventive and protective measures to ensure that under all conditions of their intended use, all processes under the control of the employer are safe and do not pose a health risk to the employees.
As part of the compliance issues under the Act, an employer must prepare a safety and health policy statement, revise the policy as often as possible, and make plans for carrying out that policy. The policy statements and any revisions thereof should also be brought to the attention of all employees.
It is also advisable that the employer ensures that a compliance audit is carried out by a third party regularly to ensure compliance with the OSHA and any other laws about the health and safety of employees.
At Riskhouse International, we have a policy review and development program led by a team of experts that help review the processes and operations within your organization and develop tailor-made policies that fit your organizational needs. To learn more about this service, you can reach us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.riskhouse.co.ke.