The Occupational Health and Safety Act (2007) was enacted before promulgation of the new constitution in 2010. The Act is thorough and adequately addresses the issues of overall safety under the mantra, “A healthy workforce in a safe workplace.”
Inspection, approval and certification falls under the Ministry of Labour office, particularly the Directorate of Occupational Health and Safety. The Labour Ministry has gone further to set the training curriculum for safety and provide self assessment sheets that available on its website.
Without a doubt, the Labour Ministry’s efforts are commendable. However, occupational health and safety faces pressures from inadequate human capital which is further exercabated by devolution.
Though there is no statistical evidence to support the theory, it is believed that devolution may reduce the quality of inspection and certification in the region. With populations in Kenya rapidly urbanizing, and the corresponding growth of cottage industries in the Jua Kali (informal) sector, this is a cause for concern.
One of the key challenges for Occupational Health and Safety in Kenya is the human capacity to assist enterprises develop and implement safety programs. Increasing technology transfer and importation of used manufacturing equipment (accelerated by the Central Government’s reduction in import duty of capital equipment) has led to the rapid growth of small manufacturing and machine enterprises in devolved units. Though there’s a corresponding growth of professionals in safety instruction and certification, this growth can hardly keep up with demand for instruction.
Ease of traffic across East African borders means safety professionals from Kenya (the de facto skilled labour source in the region) will be stretched to the limit.
In addition to this is the increasing cost of safety licensing in the counties. The 47 counties depend on funds from the Central Government which they complement by raising fees to certification and licensing for local businesses to boost their revenue. A good example is Nairobi County where the fire inspection, business license, etc, were lumped into a single business permit at a slightly higher rate per year.
As a safety practitioner, JIL Safety Solutions Ltd adopts a comprehensive training and retraining program for additional staff to ensure it has adequate manpower to serve its clients effectively. In addition to this, we assist businesses (both large and small) to successfully navigate the maze safety certification and licensing.