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Corporate health and safety in the city

We have all heard of major work-place disasters that have claimed lives and maimed others for the rest of their days. Buildings have collapsed, ferries have sunk and umpteenth fires have all made horrid headlines at some point. Is it bad luck, negligence or purely an act of God that such ordeals are common place in our part of the world?

It has long been recognised that work places are fraught with all sorts of risks to health. In fact, the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the WHO have shared a common definition of occupational health since 1950. And in 1998, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) created guidelines on Environment, Health and Safety with regulatory codes that promote the health of employees in organizations and corporates. Governing authorities must have health and safety legal codes that serve to reduce work-related injuries, ill-health and death.

Nairobi and all other counties must enforce health and safety measures in all working environments, even as the rush to attract millions of investments to booster our economy is on. Employers must be aware of the legal obligations of ensuring the health of their employees, and visitors who frequent their premises. Every corporate can and must do several things to promote healthy work-places, and limit risk to the barest minimum. And this must ensue from top management, with plans and direction for effective health and safety.

There should be health and safety policies in place, accessible and understood by all employees. A budget for training and information in safety in the work-place should be set aside, and administered by an appointed health and safety officer. Enacting and promoting safety systems and a safety culture is enshrined in Good Industrial Practices Codes. Safety reminders should be the norm, with well-placed posters and updated information in work-places. Employees must have appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), First Aid skills and health insurance.

Risk to health and safety in the work-place cannot be completely eliminated. Each industry must continuously monitor ongoing and emerging risks, and maintain a reporting system that mitigates against potential calamities. And every so often, a thorough review of the health and safety performance of each corporate is warranted. This informs on potential areas of improvement or investment to make the work environment even safer.

Unforeseen emergencies will still happen despite all reasonable health and safety measures. We must have a system that ensures a coordinated and appropriate response to major disasters. A specific authority must carry the mandate for coordinating all rescue activities.Any haphazard response by the police, ambulance services, fire department and other emergency rescue teams is a recipe for chaos and more casualties.

Let’s keep Nairobians safe wherever they work, and they will be more productive. A culture that promotes health and safety ahead of corporate profit is what we should aspire for.

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We have all heard of major work-place disasters that have claimed lives and maimed others for the rest of their days.

Buildings have collapsed, ferries have sunk and umpteenth fires have all made horrid headlines at some point.

Is it bad luck, negligence or purely an act of God that such ordeals are common place in our part of the world?

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