Namibia: Govt to Strengthen Its Occupational Health Laws

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NAMIBIA has drafted a national occupational safety and health policy, which will be launched soon.

Labour minister Erkki Nghimtina revealed this at a press conference on world safety and health day in Windhoek last week.

He said the government has acted to fill in many gaps and address many challenges highlighted by the ministry of labour's 'Country Occupational Health and Safety Profile' report.

"Guided by recommendations contained in this profile, a national occupational safety and health policy has been drafted and validated in conjunction with tripartite stakeholders," he explained.

The policy will be launched together with the country's occupational safety and health report within three months.

Nghimtina said another reason to strengthen the country's occupational safety and health systems is to harmonise the existing legislation through the establishment of an Occupational Safety and Health Act.

He explained that the act would pave the way for an occupational safety and health body which will administer and manage occupation-related issues in the country's labour market at national level.

Nghimtina added that the envisaged body would ensure effective collaboration and cooperation among the existing occupational safety and health authorities through a memorandum of understanding.

This memorandum of understanding would be signed soon, in conjunction with the official launching of the occupational safety and health country profile, and the national occupational safety and health policy.

Motivating the establishment of the policy was the chief inspector in occupational safety and health issues in the ministry of labour, Sebastian Kapange, who said the country's occupational safety analysis which was done provided the urge for the country to come up with a stand-alone policy to address its occupational safety challenges.

He said the gaps which were highlighted by the national occupational safety and health policy need to be filled, leading to the drafting of the policy, with specific objectives to address those challenges at a high level.

"Currently, when you look at health and safety in the workplace, it is a chapter under the Labour Act of 2007. Worldwide, countries have moved away from that; they have an Occupational Health and Safety Act on its own," he explained.

Kapange added that occupational safety and health is an extensive issue on its own which needs to be addressed individually, unlike now when it is under the labour law.

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