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QUESTIONDiscuss the utility of the International Labour Organization’s
Occupational Health and Management System.

Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) is a discipline dealing with the prevention of work related injuries and diseases, and the protection and promotion of the health of workers. It aims at the improvement of working conditions andenvironment.It isan area concerned with protecting the safety, health and welfare of people engaged in work of employment. The goals of occupational safety and health programs includefosteringa safe and healthy work environment.OSH may also protect co-workers, family members, employers, customers, and many others who might be affected by the workplace environment. In the United States the term occupational health and safetyincludes safety for activities outside of work.TheInternational Labour Organization (ILO) formulated an Occupational Safety and Health Management System (OHS-MS) to facilitate the formulation, implementation and evaluation of interventions at a national policy, sector and organizational level in allcountries. As thediscussion here is goinghighlight,the significance of OSH-MS is brought out or displayed throughtheILO guidelineswhichinclude policy, organizing, planning and implementation, evaluation, and action for improvement.These provide guidance for implementation at two levels which are the organizational and national level.

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The ILO-OSH 2001 was developed to provide a unique international model, compatible with other management system standards and guides, towards promoting occupational health and safety (ILO, 2011; 2010). In the ILO document ILO-OSH 2001, Guidelines on Occupational Safety and Health Management Systems, the basic components of this system include policy, organizing, planning and implementation, evaluation, and action for improvement.Policy contains the elements of OSH policy and worker participation. It is the basis of the OSH-MS as it sets the direction for the organization to follow .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 (ILO, 2010). The OSH policy should include principles and objectives to which the organization is committed and these may include protecting the safety and health of all members of the organization by preventing work-related injuries, ill health, diseases and incidents. It should comply with relevant OSH national laws and regulationsfor examplethe Labour Act Chapter 28.01,voluntary programmes, collective agreements on OSH and other requirements to which the organization subscribes, ensuring that workers and their representatives are consulted and encouraged to participate actively in all elements of the OSH-MS and continually improving the performance of the OSH-MS.However it can be noted that very few organisations have a policy dealing with OSH-MS. In the wood sector in Zimbabwe there are no clear policies with safety and health issues. Wood workers seem not to be covered by appropriate national safety and health standards and managers are not taking keen account of the risks linked with wood processing.

Worker participation is an essential element of the OSH-MS 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 (Alli, 2001; ILO, 2010). Arrangements should be made bythe employerfor 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 theimprovementof the OSH-MS.It must be noted thatemployees spend most of theirwakinghoursat work and theyhave a unique knowledge of work processes, which is essential in identifying hazards atwork therefore aremore likely to follow and abide with safety requirementsif they participate in the processes of risk assessment and risk control. Worker participation is enhanced through the establishmentof healthcommitteesfor example the establishment of a standing committee of Safety Health and Environment (the SHE committee) by the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe. This committee’s mandate is to make recommendation to the executive committee on SHE issues in the mining industry.However, some organisations do not have stand-alone health committees to represent workers hence lead to theunderrepresentationof workers in occupational safety and health issues.
Organizing contains the elements of responsibility and accountability, competence and training, documentation and communication. It makes sure that the management structure is in place, as well as the necessary responsibilities allocated for delivering the OSH policy. The employer should have overall responsibility for the protection of workers’ safety and health, and provide leadership for OSH activities in the organization (ILO, 2001). Allocation of responsibility, accountability and authority for the development, implementation and performance of the OSH management system and the achievement of the relevant OSH objectives should be made by the employer. There is also need to provide appropriate resources to ensure that persons responsible for OSH, including the safety and health committee, can perform their functions properly and to ensure effective arrangements for the full participation of workers and their representatives in safety and health committees, where they exist (ILO, 2011; ILO, 2010). However it can be seen that in many organisations, employers are not keen to be responsible for the protection of workers safety and health and to provide funds to health committees so that they can perform their duties well.

Competence andtraining
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-MS. To this end, training programs should cover all members of the organization at no cost at all as and be conducted by competent persons, must provide effective and timely initial and refresher training at appropriate intervals, include participants’ evaluation of their comprehension and retention of the training and must be reviewed periodically. In Zimbabwe, the factory inspectorate department of NASSA (National Social Security Authority) is required to certify the competence of persons appointed to be responsible for machinery and equipment safety as legally prescribed. The occupational safety and health promotion and training department of NASSA plays a crucial role in promoting safety and health at work. Its major role is to impart knowledge on health and safety issues at work to employees and employers to ensure that safety and health risks are minimized. NASSA offers training for management and employees on courses of occupational safety, health and the environment and conducts safety awareness campaigns. However, it can be seen that most of the people being employed in the mining sector (mining of diamonds) in Zimbabwe are incapacited and are not even aware of the OSH-MS hence this means that the workers are not getting sufficient education on occupational risk prevention.

Arrangements and procedures should be established and maintained for receiving, documenting and responding appropriately to internal and external communications related to OSH.The research and development department of NASSA is tasked withkeeping external occupational safety and health practices relevant at all times. It looks at what changes or adjustments in safety and health workplaces might be necessary in the light of new technology. One of its major objectives is to create and maintain a scientific database of information on occupational hazards associated with Zimbabwean workplaces.There is a need to ensure that the internalcommunication of OSH information between relevant levels and functions of the organization, and that the concerns, ideas and inputs of workers and their representatives on OSH matters are received, considered and responded to (ILO, 2010).Employees have to be involved in the development of risk management procedures and policies and also have to be consulted on any change affecting risk prevention in the work station.
Planning and Implementation
Planning and implementation contains the elements of initial review, system planning, development and implementation, OSH objectives and hazard prevention. Through the initial review, it shows where the organization stands concerning OSH, and uses this as the baseline to implement the OSH policy. The organization’s existing OSH-MS and relevant arrangements should be evaluated by an initial review, as appropriate. The initial review should be carried out by competent persons, in consultation with workers or their representatives, as appropriate. It should identify the current applicable national laws and regulations, national guidelines, tailored guidelines, voluntary programmes and other requirements to which the organization subscribes. It should identify, anticipate and assess hazards and risks to safety and health arising from the existing or proposed work environment and work organization, and determine whether planned or existing controls are adequate to eliminate hazards or control risks. In Zimbabwe, it is the duty of institutions like NASSA to carry out initial reviews but it is failing to carry out these reviews because of lack of funds.
System planning, development and implementation
Arrangements should be made for adequate and appropriate OSH planning, based on the results of the initial review, subsequent reviews or other available data. These planning arrangements should contribute a clear definition of the organization’s OSH objectives. There should also be a preparation of a plan for achieving each objective, with defined responsibility indicating what is to be done by whom and the provision of adequate resources, including human and financial resources and technical support, as appropriate.

Hazard prevention
Hazards and risks to workers’ safety and health should be identified and assessed on an ongoing basis. Preventive and protective measures should be implemented through designing of safe work systems and the employer should provide for appropriate personal protective equipment, including clothing, at no cost, and should implement measures to ensure its use and maintenance. Hazard”, “risk”, and “outcome” are used in other fields to describe e.g. environmental damage, or damage to equipment. However, in the context of OSH, “harm” generally describes the direct or indirect degradation, temporary or permanent, of the physical, mental, or social well-being of workers. For example, repetitively carrying out manual handling of heavy objects is a hazard. The outcome could be a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) or an acute back or joint injury. However, usually industry owners and managers do not provide sufficient maintenance and funds to buy protective equipment. Not much attention is thus given to the safety of processing machines, equipment and tools as well as their link to health requirement in such enterprises. Employees are only provided the barest clothing they need and without any instructions on how to use it.

Evaluation contains the elements of performance monitoring and measurement, investigation of work related injuries, ill-health, diseases and incidents, audit and management review. It shows how the OSH management system functions and identifies any weaknesses that need improvement. It includes the very important element of auditing, which should be undertaken for each stage, in which persons independent of the activity being audited should conduct the audits (ILO, 2011, 2010).
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. Performance monitoring and measurement should be used as a means of determining the extent to which OSH policy and objectives are being implemented and risks are controlled. It involves the systematic inspection of work systems, equipment, surveillance of the working environment, surveillance of workers’ health, through suitable medical monitoring to determine the effectiveness of prevention and control measures, and compliance with applicable national laws and regulations, collective agreements should be enhanced. The main objective of the occupational health services department of NASSA is to maintain and monitor comprehensive occupational health service programmes according to set international standards and the law. It has to ensure compliance with set standards in occupational health services as outlined by law. It must be noted that this department also processes medical certificates of fitness through a Medical Bureau and moniters and registers all industrial clinics. However it can also be noted that the measures used in Zimbabwe in terms of the wood sector are outdated and do not comply with occupational safety and health standards. These tend to discourage employees from adhering or applying occupational and health standards.
Investigation of work-related injuries, ill health, diseases and incidents, and their impact
The investigation of the origin and underlying causes of work-related injuries, ill health, diseases and incidents should identify any failures in the OSH-MS and should be documented after being carried out by competent persons. The results of such investigations should be communicated to the safety and health committee, where it exists, and the committee should make appropriate recommendations. The results of investigations, should be communicated to appropriate persons for corrective action, included in the management review and considered for continual improvement activities. In economic terms, the ILO has estimated that 4% of the world’s annual GDP is lost as a consequence of occupational diseases and accidents. Employers face costly early retirements, loss of skilled staff, absenteeism, and high insurance premiums due to work-related accidents and diseases. Yet many of these tragedies are preventable through the implementation of sound prevention, reporting and inspection practices. However it can be noted that these investigations on work related injuries and their impacts are not being undertaken in many organisations. In the case of Zimbabwe in reference to the wood sector, NASSA has simply indicated that there could be health impacts associated with woodworking and has not undertaken extensive research on the specific health impacts showing the loopholes that are existent at this stage.
Audits should be conducted by competent persons internal or external to the organization who are independent of the activity being audited. 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 (ILO, 2011, 2010). The audit should cover OSH policy, worker participation, responsibility and accountability, competence and training, OSH management system documentation, communication, and system planning. It should also cover investigation of work-related injuries, ill health, diseases and incidents, and their impact on safety and health performance. The audit conclusion should determine whether the implemented OSH-MS elements or a subset of these are effective in meeting the organization’s OSH policy and objectives and in promoting full worker participation. The Safety Health and Environment Committee (SHE) in Zimbabwe runs annual environmental audits in mines in an effort to encourage the development and implementation of environmental management best practice in the mining industry. However it can be noted that NASSA is failing to conduct its duties in terms of conducting annual audits in workplaces. There are no audits being taken by NASSA and it constantly lays blame on the unavailability of resources to travel round the country auditing on OSH-MS hence workers can even go for a whole year without receiving protective clothing.

Action for improvement
Action for improvement includes the elements of preventive and corrective action and continual improvement. It implements the necessary preventive and corrective actions identified by the evaluation and audits carried out. It also emphasizes the need for continual improvement of OSH performance through the constant development of policies, systems and techniques to prevent and control work-related injuries, ill health, diseases and incidents. Arrangements should be established and maintained for preventive and corrective action resulting from OSH management system performance monitoring and measurement, OSH-MS audits and management reviews. These arrangements should include identifying and analysing the root causes of any non-conformities with relevant OSH regulations or OSH-MS arrangements and initiating, planning, implementing, checking the effectiveness of and documenting corrective and preventive action. When the evaluation of the OSH-MS or other sources show those preventive and protective measures for hazards and risks are inadequate or likely to become inadequate, the measures should be addressed according to the recognized hierarchy of prevention and control measures, and completed and documented, as appropriate and in a timely manner.

Continual improvement
Arrangements should be established and maintained for the continual improvement of the relevant elements of the OSH-MS 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, the resultsand recommendations of audits andchanges in national laws and regulations, voluntary programmes and collective agreements.The safety and health processes and performance of the organization should becompared with others in order to improve health and safety performance. It must be noted that the OHSAS 18001:2007 standard ensures continual improvement in managerial performance by integrating prevention across the board throughout the whole organization and using improvement methodologies, tools and activities.
At the national level, the OSH-MS provide for the establishment of a national framework for occupational safety and health (OSH) management systems, preferably supported by national laws and regulations. Action at national level includes the nomination of competent institution(s) for OSH-MS, the formulation of a coherent national policy and the establishment of a framework for an effective national application of ILO-OSH 2001, either by means of its direct implementation inorganisationsor its adaptation to national conditions and practice (by national guidelines) and specific needs oforganisationsin accordance with their size and nature of activities.Occupational health and safety management in Zimbabwe is pursued through the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s Zimbabwe Office, the Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare, and the National Social Security Authority (NASSA) (Government of Zimbabwe, 2010, NASSA, 2012, ZCTU, 2002). They are also implemented through the Zimbabwe Occupational Health and Safety Council (ZOHSC), which comprises government (the ministry and NASSA), employers and labour unions. It is worth noting that the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ) represents employers, whilst employees through their individual trade unions are represented by Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU), or the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Union (ZFTU), the two mother bodies of the labour movement in Zimbabwe.

In Zimbabwe, occupational health and safety laws that are applicable to all employers and employees across sectors are enshrined within the Labour Act, Chapter 28.01, and the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) (Accident Prevention) (Workers Compensation Scheme) Notice No. 68 of 1990 (Mywage, 2011). Part 2 of the Labour Act, Chapter 28.01 states that no employer shall require any employee to work under any conditions or situations which are below those prescribed by law or by the conventional practice of the occupation for the protection of such employee’s health or safety.At a secondary level, there is the Protection from Smoking (Public Health) (Control of Tobacco) Regulations S.I.264 of 2002 that prohibits smoking in enclosed public places including workplaces and the Labour Relations (HIV and AIDS) regulations S.I.202 of 1998 which prohibits discrimination on the ground of AIDS/HIV status. This includes prohibition of mandatory testing for HIVas a precondition of employment andthe duty to respect the confidentiality of HIV status of employees.

In conclusion, the significance of OSH-MS is brought out or displayed through the ILO guidelines which include policy, organizing, planning and implementation, evaluation, and action for improvement.These provide guidance for implementation at two levels which are the organizational and national level.However it can also be noted thatsome organisations are failing to adhere to theseguidelines due to lack of funds, capacity gaps and lack of a policy dealing with OSH-MS among other factorsas presented by the discussion above.

Adei, D andKunfaa, E.Y.2007.Occupational health and safety policy in the wood processing industry in Zimbabwe.Journal of Science and Technology 27(2):151-171.

Alli, B. 2001.Fundamental Principles of Occupational Health and Safety.International Labour Office, Geneva
Government of Zimbabwe.2010.Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social[Accessed 26 July 2012].

ILO.2010.Guidelines on Occupational Safety and Health Management Systems (ILO-OSH 2001).SafeWork, ILO Geneva.–ed protect/—protrav/—safework/documents/publication/wcms110496.pdf[Accessed 22 July 2012].

ILO. 2011.OSH Management System; A tool for Continual Improvement. ILO.Turin
Maruta, T.T.2005.Occupational health services legislation and standards Zimbabwe. On Guard Best Practices in Occupational Health and Safety: Among Zero Tolerance. 11(4):10
Mywage.2011.Zimbabwe.Health and Safety Laws. Accessed 22 July 2012.

National Social Security Authority.2012.Occupational Health and Safety (OHS).[Accessed 23 July 2012].

Taderera.2012. Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems: Institutional and Regulatory Frameworks in

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. 2002.Survey of Occupational Health Practices at workplace level. Mimeo Report.Harare.


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