Occupational safety and health in Egypt: A national profile

An important step in establishing a national occupational safety and health (OSH)programme is to prepare an inventory of all the tools and resources available in a country to implement and manage OSH. The present national profile on OSH in Egypt represents this inventory.

Policy | 01 January 2005
The earliest legislation pertaining to occupational health in Egypt dates back to July 1909. It concerned the employment of children in cotton ginning factories. A number of Acts including sections dealing with health and welfare of factory workers followed. Employment of workers, employment conditions and agencies competent with occupational safety and health as well as penalty clauses were covered by Act No. 91, the first comprehensive Labour Law, adopted on 5 April 1959.

Regulations developed and expanded gradually in order to cover all hazards and economic sectors. It should be noted that the Egyptian legislation relating to OSH was extensively up-dated in July 2003, as described in chapter II. It now covers a great part of the requirements and provisions entailed in major ILO Conventions related to occupational safety and health.

Implementation bodies are thoroughly dealt with in chapter III. Their strengthening should be analysed in the light of the best possible use of already existing structures and of feasible ways to improve their functioning on a sustainable basis.

Education, training and information mechanisms and institutions play a vital role in the progressive construction of a national OSH system. These are essential tools in the process of awareness-raising on hazards and preventive action at all levels and, considering the needs of the country in this respect, they should be given top priority.

The active involvement and participation of employers and workers in the development of a strong safety culture should never be forgotten. Special activities aimed at these target groups could be envisaged. In Egypt, a country where micro and small and medium sized enterprises, together with agriculture, employ a very large percentage of the working population, identifying priorities for the development of a national OSH action programme is crucial.