National Occupational Health and Safety Policy Ministry of Labour and Human Resources

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1 National Occupational Health and Safety Policy Version National Occupational Health and Safety Policy Ministry of Labour and Human Resources

2 2 CONTENTS 1. Preamble Scope Vision and Mission of this OHS Policy Vision Mission Aspirations Implementation Framework Advocacy and Education Research Advisory Compliance Welfare of workers Review... 8

3 3 1. Preamble The constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan is the basis for this Policy. The Constitution includes specific commitments to ensuring a safe and healthy environment (Article 5 (2.d)), the right to life and security of person (Article 7 (1)), a good quality of life (Article 9(1)), and to just and favourable conditions of work (Article 9(12)). This Policy is designed to provide direction and guidance in the pursuit of this commitment as it applies to Bhutanese workplaces. Economic and industrial development has reached unprecedented levels in Bhutan and construction of buildings and civil works is underway all across the country. This has brought a significant increase in the level of exposure to hazards, as a large proportion of the population is now either working in, or living near an industrial or construction project. Bhutan is committed toward providing a safe and healthy working environment, safe work methods, safe plant and equipment, safe and competent co-workers, safe substances and materials in the work place. It is also committed to freedom from all forms of forced labour, harassment, (including sexual harassment), and violence towards workers, as well as freedom from work related hazards for those not at work. This Policy is made under the Constitution to facilitate the provision of effective Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) institutions, legislation and implementation programmes, in accordance with the four pillars of Gross National Happiness. The Policy recognizes that occupational safety, health and welfare are essential elements for happiness at work, at home and in society, and towards alleviation of poverty for our fellow workers. The Royal Government of Bhutan recognizes the values of democracy, transparency, and equity especially addressing the needs of the poor, underprivileged and vulnerable groups through partnership in occupational health and safety. Vulnerable groups include those requiring specific protection such as the young, disabled, low paid, shift workers, pregnant workers, and the potentially exploited, including female workers and informal workers. It

4 4 also recognizes the rights of those not employed to be free from exposure to an unhealthy or unsafe environment caused by a workplace. This policy is gender-sensitive, respects the rights of the people, and upholds the principles of prevention of accidents and ill health. 2. Scope All employers, workers and self employed persons are covered by this Policy, regardless of private or corporation, government agencies, subsistence or commercial farming or type of employment relationship, and recognizing the requirement to protect vulnerable groups. 3. Vision and Mission of this OHS Policy 3.1. Vision A nation with safe, healthy and happy working environments free from exposure to physical, chemical, biological and psychological hazards for the workforce Mission Achieve the highest standards of occupational health, safety and welfare at all workplaces through the development of National OHS policies, institutions, legislation, regulations, standards and strategic programmes and their effective implementation. 4. Aspirations Bhutan recognizes the provision of safety, health and welfare in the workplace as a prerequisite for economic and spiritual development, poverty reduction and the road to Gross National Happiness. This applies to all workers, especially vulnerable groups. Every enterprise is expected to promote OHS and to provide a safe and healthy environment with standard welfare facilities, which is essential for the achievement of happiness at work.

5 5 The Policy aims to promote self-reliance and sustainability among employers by providing suitable training and awareness programmes and promoting the employers duty of care to their employees. This policy ultimately aspires to prevent occupational accidents and ill health and promote a healthy workforce. Specifically to: o Continuously reduce the rate of work related injuries, fatalities, diseases, major emergencies. o Continuously improve awareness and standards in all areas of society regarding occupational safety, health and welfare. Accidents and ill health have an enormous societal and personal cost due to the loss of productivity, experience, knowledge and resources and the cost of remedial action and convalescence. Implementation of these aspirations will further contribute to the economic security of the country and to the material well being of its citizens. They will reinforce the values of compassion and generosity to all citizens by protecting workers and their dependents. A healthy and safe workforce will also have increased opportunities for engaging in productive activities. In order to implement these objectives it is essential that a strategic implementation plan is developed and implemented with specific timelines, actions, goals and responsibilities. This shall be implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources and other Ministries with appropriate resources and finance. 5. Implementation Framework The Royal Government of Bhutan shall assume the main responsibility for implementation of the National Occupational Health and Safety Policy through the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources. All Government Ministries are required to develop OHS policies and programmes for their areas of influence, in line with this Policy. This Policy promotes

6 6 cooperation and consultation on OHS between Government Ministries, Departments, other agencies and also organizations and associations outside of government. This policy shall be supported by the resources, regulatory framework, national OHS standards and Strategic Plan to incrementally improve Occupational Health and Safety performance. Bhutan shall pursue its objective of zero accidents or incidences of occupational illness and zero tolerance to accidents caused by negligence. Every citizen has a responsibility to do their part in making the workplace safe Advocacy and Education Maintenance of occupational health and safety institutions at national, industry and enterprise level Encouragement of increased public awareness of occupational health and safety issues, and of government s activities related to OHS Development and maintenance of a preventive occupational health and safety culture at all levels of society through community awareness programmes involving the active participation of governments, employers and workers, and civil society Development and implementation of standard OHS educational and training programmes, and increased opportunities to enhance OHS skills and learning Provision of a consultation forum for the social partners on occupational health and safety, in order to increase the overall transparency of the operation of OHS in the country and the ability to partake in decision making, and socio-economic development Encourage partnership in OHS between workers, employers and other stakeholders to increase knowledge, skills and awareness and increase opportunities for participating in decision making.

7 Research Continuous strengthening of the capacity of the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources to implement occupational safety and health through appropriate levels of expertise, knowledge and operational proficiency Develop a dedicated OHS body within the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources to provide a core of expertise and OHS resources for research, monitoring, analysis and standards Maintain an appropriate coordinated national system for the collection, compilation, analysis and dissemination of accurate statistics relating to all aspects of occupational health and safety in the nation s workplaces Engage in international benchmarking and analysis of technical and situational change in the field of OHS to facilitate the development of policies, legislation, standards, and programmes A National OHS Profile will be developed and documented annually, based on and above Advisory Assistance to industries and enterprises to assume greater self-responsibility for the elimination of workplace hazards and the prevention of occupational accidents, diseases, all forms of harassment, stress, workplace violence, and psychological illness Encouragement and assistance to enterprises to prepare and implement a comprehensive occupational health and safety policy, involving consultations and on-going cooperation between managers and workers in the enterprise Planning and implementation of initiatives appropriate to different enterprise sizes, types and levels of risk in order to promote OHS improvements in an effective and targeted manner Compliance A proactive approach must be implemented to eliminate or control workplace hazards at source, including those hazards which have the

8 8 potential to impact on the quality of air, land and water in the working environment Implementation of occupational health and safety policy, legislation and regulations through standard compliance measures, in order to increase protection of individual workers rights to a safe and healthy workplace Promotion and enforcement of the elimination of existing hazards with utmost diligence. Where elimination is not reasonably possible, to reduce, isolate, minimize, control by engineering means, administrative means or otherwise limit the exposure of employees to such hazards. Elimination and reduction of hazards must be prioritised over personal protective equipment Maintenance of comprehensive OHS regulatory and inspection systems Co-operation of social partners in the implementation of legislation, regulations and standards in relation to Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Welfare of workers A safe and healthy work environment shall be provided for all workers, with adequate welfare conditions, including clean and safe drinking water and toilets Employees shall be provided adequate free time to ensure that they have sufficient time for spiritual, family, cultural, environmental and social/recreational activities Fair compensation and social support shall be provided for those employees and their dependants who suffer loss of earnings and incur various expenditures as a result of work-related accidents, diseases, or death, including those caused by co-workers or others. 6. Review The National OHS Policy is a living document and it is envisioned that the policy will be reviewed periodically, based on changes in the National OHS Profile and the Strategic Plan.

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