Employment and working conditions have powerful effects on the quality of health. A good working condition aims to provide social protection and status, personal development opportunities, and protection from physical and psychosocial hazards.
In order to be able to maintain a sustainable household income, productivity and economic development, the health of workers is an essential prerequisite. Thus, an important function of the health services is to restore and maintain working capacity. Enacting a strong domestic legislation for the protection of workplace health and safety is also important for the country as workers are the backbone of any economy and will drive it forward.
In Myanmar, the enactment of the Occupational Health & Safety Law 2019 (“OHSL”) is a major step towards a safer workplace environment. Previously, there was no specific law concerning occupational health and safety and the Factory Act 1951 was used as the principal legislation regarding worksite safety and health measure. The draft law was issued in 2017 with the purpose to effectively implement measures related to safety and health at every industry, prevent by the workplace accidents and occupational diseases and set occupational safety and health standards.
On 15 March 2019, Pyidaungsu Hluttaw enacted the OHSL, however it has yet to come into force pending notification by the President. The new law is set to play a pivotal role in preventing workplace injuries, diseases and deaths with the aim to provide a framework for coordinated action across the different sectors. Anyone who currently carries out or wishes to start establishing a business in any industries provided under the OHSL will need to register with the Factories and General Labour Laws Inspection Department (“the Department”) for the purpose of safety and health. The law applies to government agencies, department and organisations, institutions, co-operatives, both domestic and foreign companies and joint-ventures. This includes the hospitality, transport, construction, retail, services and manufacturing industries.
Offences and penalties under the OHSL
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One of the key highlights of the OHSL is the establishment of a new tripartite National OSH Council, which is expected to be made up of workers, employers and the government, and will require employers to set up OSH committees at workplace level to help prevent occupational accidents and diseases. It is hoped that this will help to strengthen national and enterprise level social dialogue on occupational health and safety, which ultimately will improve the competitiveness of Myanmar’s companies in ASEAN and the world.
The enactment of the OHSL is the latest in a series of labour laws passed by the Parliament, including the Social Security Law 2012, the Minimum Wage Law 2013 and the Employment and Skills Development Law 2013. As there are limited regulations on work safety and health protection, with no legal establishes safety standards, there will be many challenges ahead in implementing a new national work safety and health protection system. The government will need to promote education and awareness programs to educate the people on the new law and decrees and regulations will need to be drafted and amended in order to support the new law.
The OHSL lays down and establish the duties and responsibilities of those who are responsible under this law, including workers and employers. Previously, inspectors will be appointed for the inspection of the safety of working environment and the Department can give instructions for occupation safety measures. When OHSL comes into force, it will provide for a more effective work on educat millioners and employers on safety, conducting inspections, and providing assistance. The implementation of OHSL will support the prevention of work-related accidents, occupational disease and as well as support the workers with a safe, sound and healthy working environment.
For more information, please contact:
Thuzar Tin, Zaid Ibrahim & Co (a member of ZICO Law)