Occupational Safety and Health Legislative Framework in Kenya
It is commonly appreciated that Human Resource is one of the single most valuable assets that organizations have. Effective and efficient use of human resource foresees any organization at top level due to high human resource job performance. However, there have been instances of lack of occupational health and safety measures at workplace which has left employees exposed to various kinds of health hazards. The law is clear about how health and safety should be handled by organizations.
In Kenya’s present constitution the major laws, act or regulation is the Factories and Other Places of Work Act Cap 514. This act is made of legal requirements that facilitate provision for the health, safety and welfare of persons employed in factories and other places, and for related.
The law covers the premises in which or within the close or cartilage or precincts of which, persons are employed in manual labour in any process for or incidental to any of the following purposes;
a. The making of any article or part of any article or
b. The altering, repairing, ornamenting, finishing, clearing, or washing, or the breaking up or demolition, of any article or
c. The adapting for sale of any article. However the work carried on should be by the way of trade or for purposes of gain and to or over which the employer of the persons employed therein has right of access or control.
d. It also includes premises in which persons are employed in manual labor involving
· Any yard or dry dock, in which ships or vessels are constructed, reconstructed, repaired, refitted, finished or broken up.
· Washing or filling bottles or containers or packing articles.
· Construction, reconstruction or repair of locomotive, vehicles or other plants for use for transport purposes carried out on as ancillary to a transport undertaking or other industrial or commercial undertaking.
· Printing or other similar process or bookbiding.
· Mechanical power used for making or repair of articles of metal or wood.
· Making or preparing articles to be used on building operations or works of engineering construction.
· Generation, transformation or transmission of electrical energy or motive power of any kind for supply.
· Mechanical power used in connection with a public water supply.
· Sewage works in which mechanical power is used and any sewage works
e. Any railway line or siding used for the purpose of factory.
f. Any workplace in which any two or more persons employed carry on any work.
· It is important to note that the Factories Act was amended through the Factories (Amendment) Act, 1990 in which the Act not only included factories but also other places of work.
Application of the Factories and Other Places of Work Act.
The act requires the occupier to observe and maintain the following legal requirements:
The workplace should be kept in a clean state and free from effluvia arising from any drain, sanitary convenience or nuisance.
While work is in progress, the workplace should not be overcrowded as to cause risk of injury to the health of persons employed therein.
There should be circulation of fresh air in each workroom secured by providing an effective ventilation facility.
Sufficient and suitable lighting whether natural or artificial should be provided in every part of the workplace in which persons are employed.
Drainage of floors
There should be provided an effective drainage to remove wet on floors liable to be wet.
Sufficient and suitable sanitary conveniences for employed persons should be provided, maintained and kept clean. Such conveniences should be separate for persons of each sex.
Every flywheel connected to any prime mover and every moving part should be securely fenced.
Every part of the transmission machinery should be securely fenced with efficient on or off devices or appliances provided and located in such a position as to be readily and conveniently operated.
Dangerous part of machinery
Every dangerous part of any machinery should be securely fenced unless safe by position.
Construction and maintenance
All fencing or other safeguards provided should be of substantial construction, constantly maintained and always in position when the machinery parts are in motion or in use.
Construction and disposal of new machinery
This section requires every set-screw, bolt or key on any revolving shaft, wheel or pinion be sunk, encased or effectively guarded to prevent danger. Also all spur and other toothed or friction gearing, which does not require frequent adjustment while in motion, should be completely encased.
Vessels containing dangerous liquids
Fixed vessels, structures, sumps or pits less than one meter above the ground or platform and containing any scalding, corrosive or poisonous liquid should be secured by covering, fencing or any other means to prevent any person from falling into the vessel, structure, sump or pit.
Training and supervision of inexperienced workers
Persons employed at any machine or process that is liable to cause bodily injury are required to be fully instructed as to the likely dangers and precautions to observe. Lifting machinery Hoists and lifts, chains, ropes and lifting tackles, cranes and other lifting machines are required to be thoroughly examined by a person approved by the director by certificate in writing periodically. Pressurized vessels, Steam boilers, steam receiver, air receivers, and cylinders for compressed liquefied and dissolve gases are also required to be thoroughly examined and tested by a person approved by director by certificate in writing periodically.
Safe means of access and safe place of employment
Every workplace should be safe to access by providing and maintaining, floors, steps, passages, gangways by fencing all openings.
Precautions in places where dangerous fumes are likely
If any person is to work in a confined space for instance any chamber, tank or pit in which dangerous fumes are likely, the fumes should be removed, the person provided with suitable breathing and reviving apparatus, belts and ropes.
Explosive or inflammable dust or gas
In any workroom in which dust may accumulate to such an extent as to be liable to explode on ignition practicle measures are required to prevent such an explosion by enclosing the plant and removing or preventing the accumulation of the dust and by also enclosing the possible sources of ignition. In order to control the spread and effects of such explosion provisions such as chokes, battles and vents or other effective appliances should be provided. If any vessel or tank containing any explosive or inflammable substances requires any welding or application heat, the law requires the substance or the fumes to be removed or rendered non-explosive or non-inflammable.
Prevention of fire
In addressing the fire prevention the law requires every workplace to be provided with means of extinguishing fire and train the persons in correct use of such means. It also spells out storage precautions to be taken when handling highly inflammable liquids in order to avoid fire occurrence. The minister is also empowered to make rules on the measures to be taken to reduce the risk of fire breaking out in any workplace, spread of such fire or smoke and prescribe requirements on internal construction and material to be used. In case of fire, safety provisions should include, means of escape, free passageways, all exits be of sliding door, exits marked distinctly.
The law requires the occupiers to provide supply of drinking water, washing facilities, accommodation for clothing not worn during working hours and facilities for sitting for female workers. It is also a legal requirement to provide a first-aid box in the workplace and where more than one hundred and fifty persons are employed – an additional box for every additional one hundred and fifty persons.
Removal of dust or fumes
If any dust or other impurity in any workplace is likely to be injurious or offensive to employed persons the law requires the occupier to introduce measures to protect the persons by preventing its accumulation in workroom and where the process allows by providing exhaust appliances to remove the dust or fumes.
In case workers are employed in any process where they are exposed to wet or any injurious or offensive substances the law requires that they should be provided with protective clothing and appliances. Some of the appliances include gloves, footwear, goggles and head coverings.
Duties of the employed persons
The law forbids the employed person from willfully interfering with or misusing any appliance, convenience or other things provided for ensuring health, safety or welfare for him or other employed persons.
Prohibition of deduction from wages
The occupier is prohibited by law to make any deduction from workers or ask any payment done or provided in pursuance of safety, health and welfare of a worker.