Chief OSH Officer
Mr. Damisulia O'ota
A. OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY(OSH)
Many businesses whether they are small, medium or large often make the same common mistake: they tend to regard health and safety as a low priority. That is, until an accident occurs or a Health and Safety inspectors comes to call and discovers that the company is not complying with health and safety legislation (Safety at Work Act). This can have serious implications.
Workers in Solomon Islands are protected by health and safety legislation – Safety at Work Act. This includes: -
- full-time or part-time workers, or has a permanent, temporary or causal job.
- home-based workers & volunteers who work in connection with the trade or business.
- Legislation is designed to protect people by establishing safe system of work to eliminate or minimize the risks to health, safety and welfare.
It is a legal requirement under the Safety at Work Act 1982 that you, as an employer, comply with your duty to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees. An employer has the duty to:
- Ensure the health, safety and welfare of all your employees including part and full time workers, temporary workers, and work experience people
- Inform, instruct and supply relevant information to all employees
- Ensure that all plant, machinery and systems of work are safe and without risk to health and safety
- Ensure that the premises are safe to use and that all hazardous processes are either eliminated or adequately controlled
- Ensure that adequate training is supplied to staff where applicable
- Ensure the health and safety of others who are not employed by you but may be affected by your undertaking, for example visitors or contactors
B. THE SAFETY AT WORK ACT 1982
- To protect the health, safety and welfare of people at work.
- It lays down general requirements which must be met at places of work in Solomon Islands.
- The Provisions of the Act cover every place of work.
- The Act covers self-employed people as well as employees and employers.
General Duties Part (ii) of the Act
Employers must ensure as far as reasonably practicable the health, safety of their employees.
Things employers must do to ensure this include:
- A safe work environment
- Safe systems of work
- Information, instruction and training
- Personal protective equipment when required
- Plants, equipment and substances in a safe condition
- Freedom from:
Employers and self-employed people must ensure the health and safety of people who are not employees but who may be exposed by the way they conduct their business.
Employees must take reasonable care of himself and of other person who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work.
Manufacturers and suppliers of plant and substances used at work must make sure that they are safe to use when properly used.
Carry out necessary research, testing and examination.
Make available adequate information about research and relevant tests of substances they manufacture or supply.
Make available adequate information about conditions for the safe use of equipment and substances they manufacture or supply.
SPECIFIC DUTIES (Part III of the ACT)
The Act makes provision for protection of employees and members of public from exposure to dangerous substances.
The Act makes provisions as part of its protection of employees against risks at work to carry out test and examination on pressure and vaccum systems, lifting equipment and electrical installation.
OFFENCE & PENALTIES
There are various offences and penalties associated with the Act.
These include a penalty of up to $1,000 or imprisonment for one year or both for persons found guilty of breaches of the Act or the regulations.
A number of regulations have been made under the Act. These regulations contain detailed provisions on aspects of health and safety at work.
The followings regulation includes:
- LN50/82 Fees for Test or Examinations Regulations 1982
- LN57/82 First Aid Provisions Regulations 1982
- LN60/82 Pesticide Regulation 1982
CODES OF PRACTICES
The Minister responsible for Labour has approved several Codes of Practices or Standards to be used in Solomon Islands:
- For pressure Systems; AS 1200-2030
- Electrical Installations “AS 300 and AS 21076
- Lifting Machines and Lifting Tackles: AS 1418, 1735,2359
- Limit of Exposure to Harmful Substances: EH 40
- The safety law is the Safety at Work Act 1982
- The OSH law applies to all workers, including full-time, casual, part-time, visitors, volunteers and work experience students/apprentices
- The OSH law places safety obligations on various parties in the workplace e.g. employers, managers, supervisors and workers
- A safe working environment will have policies, procedures, safety signs, safety equipment and reporting systems
- OSH helps save lives and prevent injuries & illnesses
- OSH balances a cooperative approach with traditional enforcement.
- OSH standards are the enforceable requirements for workers safety and health
C. MANAGEMENT OF HEALTH AND SAFETY
Occupational safety and health,
Main elements of the OSH management system
Occupational safety and health policy
The employer, in consultation with workers and their representatives, should set out in writing an OSH policy, which should be:
- Specific to the organization and appropriate to its size and the nature of its activities;
- concise, clearly written, dated and made effective by the signature or endorsement of the employer or the most senior accountable person in the organization;
- communicated and readily accessible to all persons at their place of work;
- reviewed for continuing suitability; and
- made available to relevant external interested parties, as appropriate.
- The OSH policy should include, as a minimum, the following key principles and objectives to which the organization is committed:
- Protecting the safety and health of all members of the organization by preventing work-related injuries, ill health, diseases and incidents;
- complying with relevant OSH national laws and regulations, voluntary programmes, collective agreements on OSH and other requirements to which the organization
- ensuring that workers and their representatives are consulted and encouraged to participate actively in all elements of the OSH management system ;and
- continually improving the performance of the OSH management system.
- The OSH management system should be compatible with or integrated in other management systems in the organization.
- Worker participation is an essential element of the OSH management system in the organization.
- The employer should ensure that workers and their safety and health representatives are consulted, informed and trained on all aspects of OSH, including emergency arrangements, associated with their work.
- The employer should make arrangements for workers and their safety and health representatives to have the time and resources to participate actively in the processes of organizing, planning and implementation, evaluation and action for improvement of the OSH management system.
- The employer should ensure, as appropriate, the establishment and efficient functioning of a safety and health committee and the recognition of workers’ safety and health representatives, in accordance with national laws and practice.
Responsibility and Accountability
- The employer should have overall responsibility for the protection of workers’ safety and health, and provide leadership for OSH activities in the organization.
- The employer and senior management should allocate responsibility, accountability and authority for the development, implementation and performance of the OSH management system and the achievement of the relevant OSH objectives.
A person or persons at the senior management level should be appointed, where appropriate, with responsibility, accountability and authority for:
- the development, implementation, periodic review and evaluation of the OSH management system;
- Periodic reporting to the senior management on the performance of the OSH management system; and
- promoting the participation of all members of the organization.
Competence and Training
- The necessary OSH competence requirements should be defined by the employer, and arrangements established and maintained to ensure that all persons are competent to carry out the safety and health aspects of their duties and responsibilities.
- The employer should have, or should have access to, sufficient OSH competence to identify and eliminate or control work-related hazards and risks, and to implement the OSH management system.
- Training should be provided to all participants at no cost and should take place during working hours, if possible.
OSH Management System Documentation
- According to the size and nature of activity of the organization, OSH management system documentation should be established and maintained,
- OSH records should be established, managed and maintained locally and according to the needs of the organization. They should be identifiable and traceable, and their retention times should be specified.
- Workers should have the right to access records relevant to their working environment and health, while respecting the need for confidentiality.
- Arrangements and procedures should be established and maintained for:
- receiving, documenting and responding appropriately to internal and external Communications related to OSH;
- Ensuring the internal communication of OSH information between relevant levels and functions of the organization ;and
- ensuring that the concerns, ideas and inputs of workers and their representatives on OSH matters are received, considered and responded to.
3. PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION
- The organization’s existing OSH management system and relevant arrangements should be evaluated by an initial review, as appropriate. In the case where no OSH management system exists, or if the organization is newly established, the initial review should serve as a basis for establishing an OSH management system.
- System planning, development and implementation
- The purpose of planning should be to create an OSH management system that supports:
- As the minimum, compliance with national laws and regulations;
- the elements of the organization’s OSH management system; and
- continual improvement in OSH performance.
- OSH objectives
- Prevention and Control Measures
- Management of change
- Emergency prevention, preparedness and response
- Emergency prevention, preparedness and response arrangements should be established and maintained.
- Procedures should be established and maintained to ensure that compliance with safety and health requirements for the organization is identified, evaluated and incorporated into purchasing and leasing specifications;
- Arrangements should be established and maintained for ensuring that the organization’s safety and health requirements, or at least the equivalent, are applied to contractor sand their workers.
Performance monitoring and measurement
- Procedures to monitor, measure and record OSH performance on a regular basis should be developed, established and periodically reviewed. Responsibility, accountability and authority for monitoring at different levels in the management structure should be allocated.
- Investigation of work-related injuries, ill health, diseases and incidents, and their impact on safety and health performance
- The investigation of the origin and underlying causes of work-related injuries, ill health, diseases and incidents should identify any failures in the OSH management system and should be documented.
- Arrangements to conduct periodic audits are to be established in order to determine whether the OSH management system and its elements are in place, adequate, and effective in protecting the safety and health of workers and preventing incidents.
Management reviews should evaluate the overall strategy of the OSH management system to determine whether it meets planned performance objectives;
5. ACTION FOR IMPROVEMENT
Preventive and Corrective Action
- Arrangements should be established and maintained for preventive and corrective action resulting from OSH management system performance monitoring and measurement,OSH management system audits and management reviews. These arrangements should include:
- identifying and analyzing the root causes of any non-conformities with relevant OSH regulations and/or OSH management systems arrangements; and
- initiating, planning, implementing, checking the effectiveness of and documenting corrective and preventive action, including changes to the OSH management system itself.
- Arrangements should be established and maintained for the continual improvement of the relevant elements of the OSH management system and the system as a whole. These arrangements should take into account:
- the OSH objectives of the organization;
- the results of hazard and risk identifications and assessments;
- the results of performance monitoring and measurements;
- the investigation of work-related injuries, diseases, ill health and incidents, and
- the results and recommendations of audits;
- the outcomes of the management review;
- therecommendationsforimprovementfromallmembersoftheorganization,including the safety and health committee, where it exists;
- changes in national laws and regulations, voluntary programmes and collective agreements;
- new relevant information; and
- the results of health protection and promotion programmes.
D. HAZARD MANAGEMENT
An essential step in the management of OSH is
These steps include:
- IDENTIFY THE HAZARD,
- ASSESS THE RISK,
- CONTROL THE PROBLEM,
- EVALUATE RESULTS.
Hazard management definitions
Hazard (the problem) – Any situation with the potential to cause injury or illness
Hazard identification – know what the dangers are in the workplace
IDENTIFY THE HAZARD
A hazard is anything that has the potential to cause injury illness or damage to your health.
Hazards at work may include:
- Mechanical Hazards - faulty or unguarded machinery
- Unsafe human behaviour
- Poor work design (e.g., tasks involving repetitive movements)
- Inadequate management systems (e.g., no procedures for performing tasks safety or for using personal protective equipment).
IDENTIFY THE HAZARD
The first step in ensuring a safe workplace is identifying hazards. There are a number of ways to find hazards in your workplace:
- Ask people in your workplace about any hazards they may have noticed
- Consider the physical structure of your workplace – look at stairs, desks, floor surfaces, exits, driveways, housekeeping standards
- Check all machinery, appliances and vehicles used for work
- Examine how substances are stored, used and moved from one place to another
- Review your company’s injury records (including ‘near misses’)
- Review information from designers, manufacturers or suppliers of the equipment and substances in your workplace
- Consult professional OSH specialists.
ASSESS THE RISK
A Risk is the likelihood of a hazard causing injury, illness or damage to your health.
To assess the risk associated with each hazard, as these questions;
What is the potential impact of the hazard?
- How severe could an injury or illness be?
- What is the worst possible damage the hazard could cause to someone’s health?
- Would it require simple first aid only? Or cause permanent ill health or disability? Or could it kill?
How likely is the hazard to cause someone harm?
- Could it happen at any time or would it be a rare event?
- How frequently are workers exposed to the hazard?
You should also consider how many people are exposed to the hazards, and remember that everyone is different. A hazard may pose more risk to some people than others because of differences in physical strength, experience and training.
CONTROL THE PROBLEM
- Once you’ve spotted the hazards and assessed their risk, you need to develop ways to fix or control them.
- You should use the hierarchy of controls to help you decide which is the most appropriate and effective solution for your workplace.
- You should always aim to remove a hazard completely from your workplace. Where this isn’t practical, you should work through the other alternatives systematically.
- Some problems may be fixed easily and straight away, while others will require more effort and planning to resolve, so it’s important to concentrate on the most urgent hazards without neglecting the simpler ones – that is, don’t focus on just the complex hazards, as you might overlook ones that could be easily and immediately fixed,
- Some solutions are more effective than others. Use the hierarchy of controls on the next page to help you decide which is the most appropriate for your workplace. It starts with the most effective control method,
- Make sure your solution does not introduce new hazards.
Hierarchy of control measures
The hierarchy of control is a sequence of options which offer you a number of ways to approach the hazard control process. Here is a list, with typical examples. Work your way down the list, and implement the best measure possible for your situation.
Eliminate the hazard
- remove hazardous electrical plant from the workplace
- cease in-house operations of hazardous work.
If this is not practical, then:
Substitute the hazard with a lesser risk
- use low voltage electrical plant
- substitute movable electrical plant for fixed.
If this is not practical, then:
Isolate the hazard
- place hazardous electrical plant in enclosures with restricted access
- place out-of-service tags on plant.
If this is not practical, then:
Use engineering controls
- use safety switches to protect socket outlets which supply electrical plant.
If this is not practical, then:
Use administrative controls
- perform regular inspection and tests on electrical plant and electrical installations
- implement safe work practices, instruction and training.
If this is not practical, then:
Use personal protective equipment
- use rubber mats, insulated gloves, eye protection, boots, and head gear (also to be used in conjunction with above measurement.
EVALUATE THE RESULTS
- Hazard Management is not on-off event – it’s an ongoing process.
- Evaluation is an important step. After you think you’ve fixed/control the problem, find out whether the changes have been effective:
- Talk to the people involved. Get feedback from those by the changes and include them in any modifications to their workplace or work routines
- Look at your accident records.
Make sure your solution does not introduce new hazards. Maybe you and your workers can even see ways to make further improvements.
Set a date to re-assess the risk. Choose a timeframe appropriate to the task and the risk involved. This could be anywhere between a week and five years.
A safe system of work should be provided to ensure the total sets of methods are adopted for carrying out the operations required in a particular work-place. They cover all aspects of the employment situation including the organization of work processes, the methods of using machinery, plant and equipment, the methods of hiring labour, job training, instruction and supervision about associated hazards and their management, and what to do when thing go wrong.
E. WORKMENS’ COMPENSATION
Workmen’s Compensation Act – 1982 (Cap 78) 1996 Edition
The broad purpose and objectives of the Workmen’s Compensation is to provide assistance to the injured worker or dependents of the deceased worker to receive appropriate compensation as afforded to them under the Workmen’s Compensation Act and to increase public awareness of the rights, benefits and obligation of the worker and employer under the Act
- Legal Requirements
The Workmen's Compensation Act and subsidiary Legislation makes provision for compensation to workmen injured at work in Solomon Islands, it also includes occupational diseases.
- Employees Covered by the ACT
When an accident or prescribed disease occurs to an employee during work and it arises out his employment then, the employer is liable to pay compensation to him subject to the conditions laid down in the ACT.
Travelling to and from work in the employers transport and travelling on behalf of the employer is counted as being at work.
Deliberate self inflicted injuries do not count.
- Reporting of Accidents and Diseases
All accidents causing injury to a workman who is covered by the Act which prevent him attending work for more than 3 days must be reported by the employer to the Commissioner of Labour. This is on a prescribed form LAB WCA 1which must be sent within 7 days of the accident.
In case of death (Section 6 WC Act) the employer should complete form LAB WCA 5 and if the cause of the death was due to an accident LAB WCA 1 should also be completed
A prescribed industrial disease which occurs within 12 months prior to the date of disability (caused by the disease) is reportable within 7 days of disability as in the case of an accident.
- Administration of the Acts
When an injury by accident occurred to an employee arising out and in the course of employment, or when an employee contracted an occupational disease that affected the physical, mental, psychological capacity of employee, the following is undertaken:
- Labour Form LABWCA 1 is dispatched to the Employer to fill up
- Labour Form LABWCA 2 is usually given as well which shall be taken to the responsible Medical Practitioner (Doctor) to make a medical assessment to determine the percentage (%) incapacitation
- In FATAL Cases, LABWCA 1 and LABWCA 5 is dispatched to employer to fill up.
The forms will be return to Labour Office with complete reports for monetary computation.
Calculations are made on the Labour Form LABWCA 3 with a covering letter and sent to the Employer, copied to the respective Insurance Firm where his workers are insured under the Workmen’s Compensation Policy.
The claim shall be settled within 3 months from the date of submission.
If the employer have queries and questions, these shall be directed to the Commissioner of Labour to clarify or make possible changes if need be. Should the Employer refuses liability the case will be referred to the Court of Law for deliberation.
When the employer or the insurance firm process payment the Commissioner of Labour is informed and the case is closed.