Occupational Health & Safety

“Safety: the condition of being safe; freedom from danger, risk or injury.”

Occupational safety and health is a cross-disciplinary area concerned with protecting the safety, health and welfare of people engaged in work or employment. The goal of all occupational safety and health programs is to foster a safe workingenvironment. As a secondary effect, it may also protect co-workers, family members, employers, customers, suppliers, nearby communities, and other members of the public who are impacted by the workplace environment.

Employers, by law, must provide employees with a safe and healthy working environment. Occupational Health and Safety in Namibia is governed by the Labour Act Nr 11 of 2007 in conjunction with Regulation 156, ‘Regulations Relating to the Health and Safety of Employees at work’.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have shared a common definition of occupational health. The definition reads:
“Occupational health should aim at: the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations; the prevention amongst workers of departures from health caused by their working conditions; the protection of workers in their employment from risks resulting from factors adverse to health; the placing and maintenance of the worker in an occupational environment adapted to his physiological and psychological capabilities; and, to summarize, the adaptation of work to man and of each man to his job.”

A comprehensive health and safety training programme in each workplace will, among other more obvious benefits, help workers to recognize any early signs/symptoms of potential occupational diseases before they become permanent conditions, to assess their work environment, and to insist that management make changes before hazardous conditions can develop. See more on the benefits of training.

The Namibian Employers' Federation (NEF) offers a range of targeted awareness training as well as external training in the area of Occupational Health and Safety. See more on our training.


Proper attention to workers' health and safety has extensive benefits:

* healthy workers are productive and raise healthy families; thus healthy workers are a key strategy in overcoming poverty.
* workplace health risks are higher in the informal sector and small industries which are key arenas of action on poverty alleviation, where people can work their way out of poverty.
* safe workplaces contribute to sustainable development, which is the key to poverty reduction.
* the processes of protecting workers, surrounding communities and the environment for future generations have important common elements, such as pollution control and exposure reduction.
* much pollution and many environmental exposures that are hazardous to health arise from industrial processes, that can be beneficially influenced by occupational health and safety programmes.
* occupational safety and health can contribute to improving the employability of workers, through workplace (re)design, maintenance of a healthy and safe work environment, training and retraining, assessment of work demands, medical diagnosis, health screening and assessment of functional capacities.
* occupational health is fundamental to public health, for it is increasingly clear that major diseases (e.g. AIDS, heart disease, cancer) need workplace wellnessprogrammes.

Benefits of promoting a healthy workforce

To the organization
* a well-managed health and safety programme
* a positive and caring image
* improved staff morale
* reduced staff turnover
* reduced absenteeism
* increased productivity
* reduced health care/insurance costs
* reduced risk of fines and litigation

To the employee
* a safe and healthy work environment
* enhanced self-esteem
* reduced stress
* improved morale
* increased job satisfaction
* increased skills for health protection
* improved health
* improved sense of well-being

How does complying with regulations save you money?

Not complying with the Regulations set out by law can cost you money in hefty fines. Furthermore, injuries and accidents involve both direct costs and indirect costs.

Direct costs constist of:
* Medical expenses such as ambulance, hospital, and doctors' fees, medication, and rehabilitation
* Compensation payments
* Insurance premium increases
* Litigation costs

In most cases, direct costs covering the worker, are covered by the Workman Compensation Fund (only up to a certain salary scale) and therefore have little or no immediate impact on profits. But they do impact on future profits, since they drive up the cost of doing business.

Indirect costs include disrupted work schedules, lost productivity, clean-up and repair, hiring and training replacement workers, bad publicity, time spent on accident investigation, claims management, and litigation.

The Namibian Employers' Federation (NEF) offers a range of targeted awareness training as well as external training in the area of Occupational Health and Safety. See more on our training.