Kenya: Nakuru Firm Ensures Employees' Safety At Work

15 December 2019

Employers are required to ensure their staff work in safe and healthy environments.

However, cases of employees being retired due to injuries at work places are increasing as companies struggle to settle the huge compensation bills running into millions of shillings.

These injuries may include broken limbs and even respiratory diseases from inhaling toxic chemicals.

INJURIES

Mr John Muthama's thumb was chopped off while operating a sewing machine at a textile firm in Nakuru town.

Mr Muthama did not understand his legal options including filing workers' compensation claim.

Ms Asumpta Ngina had a miscarriage while working in a local flower farm and was rushed to hospital. However, being a casual labourer, her employer did not cater for her medical expenses.

In another incident, Mr Peter Satia was attacked by bees while ploughing at his employers' expansive farm in Njoro. He lost his sight and was retired prematurely.

These are just some of the cases of work related injuries that expose the vulnerability of workers in the country.

ACCIDENTS

However, to reduce accidents at work stations, Nakuru-based company Universal Work Health and Safety Consultancy Limited has launched a safety training package for workers.

The firm's Managing Director Leshan ole Taruru says accidents at work can be avoided if employers have comprehensive safety, health, environment and sustainability programmes.

The company offers specialised training to firms in Nakuru Town.

"A safety and environmental protection ensures there are no accident at the places of work," said Mr Taruru.

He says that he developed a passion for safety at work after seeing many workers retire after sustaining injuries at work.

FIRST AID

The company is licensed by the Directorate of Occupational Health Services, National Environment Management Authority and accredited by National Industrial Training Authority.

It also offers environmental training, first aid, road safety and risk assessment.

"We believe workers' health and safety are fundamental human rights. We advise our clients on the best way to protect their employees and the environment," said Mr Taruru.

The firm also tackles issues on chemical and behavioural safety.

"People tend to change their behaviour while at places of work and we train staff in conjunction with international organisations like American Hygiene Association," said Mr Taruru

With increasing accidents, he said safety training must be made mandatory in public and private universities.

"New university students must undertake first aid training since many accidents occur at the institutions," he added.

Armed with 20 years of experience, Mr Taruru says his company has developed safety systems for leading organisations in flower industries such as Oserian, Flowers, James Finlay and county governments.

COMPLIANCE

He says the biggest challenge facing employers is lack of compliance.

"Safety should be driven by legislation but some institutions ignore the safety rules," he added.

Some legislations are outdated and should be reviewed to be in tandem with the changing technologies.

"Today, we are leaning more towards renewable energy but sadly, we don't have legislations to guide the country on how to address accidents related to green energy," he added.

He said employers face a new reality check as they contend with drug addiction from young employees.

DRUG ADDICTION

"We are developing a training manual for the new generation of employees which faces the drug addiction problem," said Mr Taruru.

The firm plans to spread its wings across the country by opening branches in Kericho and Mombasa counties.

The company has partnered with Nakuru, West Pokot and Nairobi counties to train workers on safety issues. Terrorism threat is another challenge the country is facing.

However, Mr Taruru advises companies to ensure workers know exit routes and where first aid kits and fire extinguisher are located.

"Many people are not aware a fire extinguisher can also be used to defend workers by splashing attackers with the foam on the face and make a quick exit," said Mr Taruru.

The company which started with one employee has 25 workers today. It plans to open a regional branch in Tanzania.

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