About 45% of the world’s population and 58% of the population over 10 years of age belongto the global workforce. Their work sustains the economic and material basis of societywhich is critically dependent on their working capacity. Thus occupational health and thewell-being of working people are crucial prerequisites for productivity and are of utmostimportance for overall socioeconomic and sustainable development.? The workplace is a hazardous environment. Occupational health and safety2 hazardsare common in many economic sectors and affect large numbers of workers.
Approximately 30-50% of workers report hazardous physical, chemical or biologicalexposures or overload of unreasonably heavy physical work or ergonomic factors thatmay be hazardous to health and to working capacity; an equal number of workingpeople report psychological overload at work resulting in stress symptoms. Manyindividuals spend one-third of their adult life in such hazardous work environments.About 120 million occupational accidents with 200,000 fatalities are estimated tooccur annually and some 68-157 million new cases of occupational disease may becaused by various exposures at work. In addition to unnecessary human suffering, thecosts involved in these health hazards have been estimated to amount up to severalpercent of some countries’ gross national product (GNP).? The occupational health services, provided by employers or governmental authoritiesin all countries to address the health promotion, health protection and health careneeds of working populations have been identified as an important component of thepublic health system. These services can make a significant contribution to essentialgovernmental initiatives, such as; increasing health equality, improving socialcohesion, and reducing sickness absence.
They help to reduce the overall burden ofdiseases. The rapid development of workplace health protective and preventiveservices has been driven by the WHO strategies and recommendations. This was alsolargely due to the new demands and expectations from employers, employees andtheir representative bodies as they recognize the economic, social and health benefitsachieved by providing these services at the workplace. These services provide theavailable knowledge and evidence necessary for the continuous improvement ofworkplace health management, but they also participate in this process.? Comprehensive workplace health management is a process involving all stakeholdersinside and outside the enterprise. It aims at empowering them to take control overtheir own health and their family’s health considering environmental, lifestyle,occupational and social health determinants and quality of health care.
It is based onhealth promotion principles and it creates a great challenge to health, environmentand safety professionals providing services, advice, information and education tosocial partners at work. It involves also taking care of considerable socioeconomicinterest of all involved stakeholders.WAAD SATTI 3? The level of industrial hygiene and occupational safety in Africa is low comparedwith the rest of the world, (for example the buildings are very old and do not fulfillacceptable safety and health standards). These buildings, have poor lighting andventilation, there are no emergency exit doors, the welfare and sanitary facilities, ifany, are old or no longer in use and the machineries are outdated or improperlyinstalled, unguarded and producing high noise levels. Unfortunately, technology wastransferred from industrialized countries to developing ones without anyconsideration for occupational safety, health and working conditions. Investorsbrought in technology based on economic or technical criteria only. Sudan is not inisolation from what happens in Africa. The importance of occupational hygiene hasnot been clearly enough demonstrated to make it a structural discipline.
The industrialbodies in Sudan face challenges in implementing the occupational health and safetymanagement systems towards productivity and to comply with regulations.? Safe and healthy working conditions do not happen by chance. Assessment conductedamong 32 factories at Khartoum North, food and beverages Sector reflect poorpractices of Industrial hygiene and occupational safety.o Current situation:? Appropriate legislation and regulations, together with adequate means of enforcement,are essential for the protection of workers’ health and safety. The enforcement of legalprovisions concerning occupational health and safety and the working environmentshould be secured by an adequate and appropriate system of inspection. Althoughoccupational health and safety Act in Khartoum state was signed in February 2011, it isstill state’s law not federal.
Moreover, there is no actual application of Act provisions. Onthe other hand, Environmental health survey form reflects.? poor practices of work place inspections improper measurements for physical chemical,biological and ergonomic hazards were conducted.? Lack of environmental measurements and lack of legislation at the federal level,represent the main obstacles for conducting proper workplace inspection. Any practiceneeds a valid and justifiable legal support for its effective enforcement andimplementation.? Since the consequences of occupational hazards may not become apparent for manyyears, pre- employment medical examination which represent imperative component ofoccupational health and safety system must be an integral component of recruitmentprocedures to preserve both employer and employee rights.? Reporting of industrial hygiene and occupational safety data is still non-standardized.
Inmost of the cases, it results from poor and inaccurate data. There is a lack of nationallevelpolicy in encouraging the scope of environmental performance reporting andkeeping occupational health diseases and injuries records. Such lack varies widelybetween companies, which results from absence of awareness in the post of decisionmakers regarding the importance of occupational health and industrial hygiene policy.
WAAD SATTI 4? Although studies showed a significant relation between productivity and occupationalhealth and safety, employers still have a wrong idea about safety measures considering itan extra cost. Effective management of worker safety and health protection is a decisivefactor in reducing the extent and severity of work-related injuries and illnesses and therelated costs. Moreover, by law, any company with a workforce less of than 50 is notobliged to have safety representative it was clear that 56.
7% of food IndustriesCompanies have a workforce less than 50, which represents the main obstacle inconducting safety measures.? Back injuries represent the most reported occupational health related problem, this revealthat the present status of OHS/ ergonomics is still at the rudimentary level, but employersusually consider these elements as a costly luxury. It came out to bear that employeeswrong perception of hazards and their consequences poses a great danger to them.Unfortunately, a numbers of workers believe that hazards are part of their jobs.
Workersshould be given enough insight of the risk and dangers inherent in their work at the workplaces and the preventive measures through education.The role of ministry of health and labor office in Sudan about safety and health atwork place:? The National Health Policy envisages strengthening environmental health services ofwhich occupational health is a component. The FMoH, in collaboration with the SMoH,will identify potential risks to human health. In order to avert or mitigate these risks,which are mostly beyond the domain of the ministries of health, an interdisciplinarycommittee on environmental health will be established at all levels of government todefine comprehensive measures to protect and promote a healthy environment, includinghealth at the workplace. The policy advocates for the coverage of all workers, includingthose working in the informal sector, in small and medium-sized enterprises and inagriculture by essential interventions and the prevention of basic occupational healthservices for primary prevention of occupational and workrelated diseases and injuries.? The role of the Ministry of Health in safety and health at work can be summed up atthree levels:1. Implementation level:? Would be responsible for ensuring that the organizations have an occupational health andmanagement system in place.
The labor officer would monitor conformance to theoccupational health and management system. Nevertheless, the success of theoccupational health and management system depends on commitment from all levels andfunctions within an organization, especially from the senior management. An effectiveoccupational health and management system would assist an organization to:a. defines a policy and objectivesWAAD SATTI 5b.
establishes, assess and review the effectiveness of procedures implementing OH and objectivesc. achieve conformance with OH policy and objectives of the organization andd. demonstrate this conformance to others (via self-declaration orcertification/registration as appropriate).The ultimate goal would be to improve working conditions and workers’ health andthereby to minimize the costs resulting from accidents, high insurance premiums causedby the workplace’s higher level of risk, workmen’s compensation and by litigation.2. Legal regulation level:? At this level would be responsible for enforcing legislation and for ensuring compliancewith workplace safety and health standards. Enforcement would involve plant andworkplace inspections, issuing of improvement and prohibition notices, reduction ofinjuries, accident investigations, advice on requirements for compliance, and prosecutionof those in breach of legislation.3.
External audition level:? At this level, would be independent and should be employed in a recognized firmconducting audits of workplaces for the purpose of ascertaining conformance andnonconformance of the occupational health and management system. This would be avery useful level since it would drastically improve the health and safety of workplaces.The firm should have a variety of specialists (multidisciplinary).? All this is to achieve the specific goals which are:? Protecting human health against health and safety hazards occurring in the workenvironment? Promoting human health, workplaces for all ages and healthy aging by appropriate workculture, work organization and support to social cohesion.? Promoting mental health, healthy life style and preventing major non-communicablediseases using specific workplace health policies and management tools.
? Maintaining work ability thus also employability throughout working life.? Reducing health care costs caused by employees’ and employers’ injuries, diseases,illnesses and premature retirement resulting from or influenced by occupational,environmental, life style and social health determinants.? Using resources effectively and efficiently and protecting the natural environment andcreating health supportive environment.? Improving societal communication and literacy on health, environment and socialcohesion.
? In order to change the current situation, many activities and actions can be carriedout by ministry of health and labor office such as:1. There is a need for the government to be advised on the need to initiate the occupationalhealth and management system by setting a clear policy and allocating the necessaryresources for its implementation. Ratification of the relevant conventions would assist inWAAD SATTI 6requiring reporting on the progress by the International labor Office (ILO) in accordancewith Article 22 of the ILO constitution as reported by Elliot (2000).2. The ministry of health and labor office should advise the government to compel industriesto employ an officer or manager who has been trained in occupational health and safety, orone who has undergone a course in Environmental Health Sciences. The professional groupto be targeted should be the public health officers. Small industries should be allowed toutilize services from a health and safety firm, preferably managed by public health officers.
3. Training programmes in occupational health and safety should be restructured and shouldconform to international standards. The professionals to be trained should go beyond publichealth officers, nurses and clinical officers. Should be cooperation with other training ofhigher learning, for instance, , so that a link is made for Sudanese and other African studentsto be trained in Sudan. This would be not only cost-effective but also an avenue for tappingmodern information and technology. The World Bank or the ILO should be approached forassistance with capacity building. of legislation.
4. Organization of short courses, seminars and conferences should be encouraged. Privatefirms should be allowed to train workers in competency and the Directorate of OccupationalHealth and Safety Services of the Ministry of Labor should be in a position to accredit thetrained worker, for instance, by issuing a card or a certificate.5. Worksite health promotion should be started and advanced in Sudan.
In its curricula theMinistry of Education should include safety and health everywhere, as this would contributeto behavioral change and enhancement of a positive safety culture. The media, such as theradio and television, newspapers and journals, should be utilized.6. The management should be encouraged to have in place functional Job Safety Analysis(JSA) procedures. Insurance firms should be using it as a way of determining the level ofpremiums.7.
The management should adhere to a hierarchy of control measures of elimination,substitution, isolation, engineering, and administrative controls when managing a hazard;personal protective equipment should be used as a last resort. Legislation should have aclause to that effect.8. A safety management audit process should be put in place in all workplaces.9. A central database should be in place for data collection and access to information relatedto occupational health and safety, and all stakeholders should have means of access.
10. Heavy fines should be imposed on companies or persons contravening legislation so thatothers who may be similarly tempted are deterred.11. Standards, Codes of Practices and Guidance Notes should govern all tasks involved inhealth and safety, and any other relevant efforts.
This would encourage order where laxity isWAAD SATTI 7experienced. Technical issues would be incorporated in the Code of Practices and GuidanceNotes.12. Research should be a built-in component of roles and responsibilities of those inoccupational health and safety professions.Summary:? Effective occupational health and safety policies can’t be achieved unless both employersand employees perform their respective responsibilities. The employer is supposed to filegovernment accident reports, maintain records on health and safety issues, post safetynotices and legislative information and provide education and trainings on health andsafety.
Occupational health and safety should be a holistic exercise encompassing officedesign, ergonomics, tiling and flooring, protective tools and equipment, ventilation,lighting and any other procedures that will make the staff feel comfortable to do his/herjob.? The employee, on the other hand, is required to comply with all health and safety rules,know that he is ultimately responsible for his/her health and safety The employee isrequired to wear personal protective equipment and report any contravention of law bymanagement. Also he has the right to refuse unsafe work.
? Any practice needs a valid and justifiable legal support for its effective enforcement andimplementation, so the government should also institute monitoring teams who will goaround periodically checking whether employers align to the regulations as provided inthe Labor Act. Measurements of physical, chemical, biological, and ergonomic hazardsmust be conducted properly.? Accidents are costly both to the affected worker and organization.
Therefore, every effortshould be made in order to avoid them at the work place. Health and safety of the staffdoing the job is equally important for the job to be done.