Health & Safety in Mauritius

Mauritius. Most people work in big organisations and under conditions that must cater for everyone’s welfare. Both employers and employees must be aware of their Health and Safety duties and responsibilities in the workplace. In any place where someone is working. The employer must guarantee his Safety and Health through proper procedures.

In Mauritius the spraying of herbicides is a big problem.

So many of us, have been injured at work or have had health problems, which were caused by work factors. While being involved in our work tasks, many of us often neglect the aspect of Occupational Safety. Safety at work is becoming an important issue of concern in all workplaces including Government Ministries.

To ensure effective implementation of Health and Safety in workplaces, a workshop was organized last week by the Occupational Safety and Health Unit of the Ministry of Civil Service and Administrative reforms on the Occupational Safety and Health Act 2005, for supervising officers of all ministries.

The top management of ministries is expected to ensure an effective management of Health, Safety and welfare responsibilities as well as to foster such a culture within the organization. “With the expansion of the economy, our Occupational Health system is undergoing a major shift from protection of health at work to the promotion of health of our workforce. It is said that a healthy workforce is the prerequisite for the performance and success in an organization”, declared P. Jhugroo, supervising officer at the ministry of Civil Service and Administrative reforms.

Justice Bushan Domah made a detailed presentation on the implications of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 2005. This law makes Health, Safety and welfare provision not only for workers in the private and public sectors only but also for expatriates, self-employed and guest employees. One important amendment that has been brought to this act is that the legal working age is now 19 instead of 18 years old.

Taking into consideration the new economic and technological changes, which Mauritius is undergoing, the new Occupational Safety and Health Act makes provision for how to cater and promote Health, Safety and Health programs in working environments. Indeed, one of the main objectives of this act is to reinforce, consolidate and update the legislation on Safety and Health at work to match the changes in the working conditions of employees brought by new technologies, plants and equipments as well as new hazards.

Shared responsibilities

The act makes provision for the protection of employees against new hazards in workplaces or work-related diseases caused by the use of chemicals and hazardous substances. The law also applies to public sector organizations so as to widen its scope.

Creating a healthy organization has been one of the major implications of this law. To achieve this, good working conditions, a supportive work climate and healthy employees are more important than before. There must be a proper risk assessment and evaluation of the workplace but also the set-up of control measures.

The workplace is not restricted to the office or factory. “Wherever work is performed, it is a workplace”, said Justice Domah.

For example, if a driver meets an accident on the road while on duty, it is still considered as his workplace. Another issue is that of employees who comes from outside the organization as guest employees or as contract workers to perform some work. The employer in any organization must consider and cater for the proper occupational safety and health aspects of such employees.

Anther positive issue raised is that of effective communication in workplaces. There must be clarity in instructions given, about goals and objectives that must be met, results to achieve or about any changes. The creation of a proper organizational culture, appropriate training for young employees and building up teamwork were also discussed and considered as important aspects of workplaces.

Source: L’Express (Port Louis)
By: Bilkiss Jaffaralli
18 April 2008

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