Minister and Deputy Ministers of key sectors in Lao People’s Democratic Republic finalized the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation

Dr. Khampheng Saysompheng, Minister to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (left) with Dr Juliet Fleischl

Dr. Khampheng Saysompheng, Minister to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare led a high-level multisectoral consultation meeting that was joined by the Deputy Ministers from several key sectors, including the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Industry and Commerce and Vice President of the Lao Federation of Trade Union and the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

At this meeting, they finalize the adoption of the Prime Minister’s Decree on Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) Regulation. The ministries discussed their roles and responsibilities in relation to the PM decree, and the collaboration with stakeholders in the implementation process.

Dr. Saysompheng said “I am pleased to see that we have made good progress with the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, which are aligned with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare Strategy for 2016-2020. In the coming months, we will work with other ministries and stakeholders to implement the regulations. The involvement of more than 200.000 enterprises in Laos is an important step, with plans to include workers in small scale production and informal sectors.”

The OSH Regulation will be the first legislative framework to define the minimum requirements for OSH management system in the workplace; the obligations of the government, the structure of coordination at the central and provincial levels; the roles of employers and employees; and a basic set of occupational health and safety services like workplace inspection, workers’ health surveillance, notification and cause investigation of occupational diseases and injuries in the workplace.

WHO Representative to Lao PDR, Dr. Juliet Fleischl said “The workers’ health, safety and well-being issues extend beyond the individual and their families; we know that a healthy worker is productive and they can contribute to the economic developments of the country, the sustainability of their employers and the well-being of their families. This relates to the UHC/SDG for SDG 3 on Good Health and Well-being, SDG 8 on decent work and economic growth and SDG 9 on Industry, innovation and infrastructure. It also supports the ASEAN initiative to protect workers’ right to work in a safe and healthy environment cross-border.”

Following the leading theme of SDG, “Leave no one behind”, the OSH Decree addresses the issues of informal sector as well as small industries. For example, the workplace with less than 10 employees and domestic workers without formal contract with employers will be provided basic occupational health services.

To implement the OSH Regulation effectively and efficiently, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare agreed to update the national OSH profile. In addition, WHO will provide OSH training to health workers, including medical doctors, nurses, and technicians and labour inspectors. The ministries will introduce healthy work practices and work organization, and encouraging health-promoting culture at the workplace.

Dr. Rok Ho Kim, Coordinator of the Health and the Environment Programme in WHO Regional Office of the Western Pacific said “The Lao Regulation includes basic occupational health services for small scale and informal sectors to be provided by the government while workers in medium and large industries are covered by their employers. This is a breakthrough for developing countries and will serve as a good model for countries in this region.”