Better Work industrial seminar addresses new workplace safety and health regulations in Jordan

Press release | 14 December 2023
Amman, JORDAN – The Better Work Jordan programme, in collaboration with Jordan’s Ministry of Labour (MoL), conducted an industrial seminar, addressing recently-introduced amendments to regulations and instructions concerning occupational safety and health (OSH) issues across the country's industries. The primary objective was to strengthen these regulations and instructions, aiming to improve overall working conditions.

In a collaborative effort involving key stakeholders from the industrial and commercial sectors, as well as labour unions, the (MoL) endorsed amendments to key regulations in 2023. These include Regulation No. 31, addressing OSH and Occupational Hazard Prevention; Regulation No. 32, centering on Preventive and Curative Medical Care for Workers at Enterprises; and Regulation No. 33, which delineates the establishment of OSH committees and the appointment of OSH supervisors across enterprises.

These amendments encompassed instructions on the classification of risk levels at economic enterprises, risk assessment in the work environment, and the identification of types of occupational hazards, along with necessary precautions and preventive measures.

The seminar specifically focused on the four sectors registered with Better Work Jordan, which include the Garment, Engineering, Plastic, and Chemical industries. For other sectors, the MoL will coordinate coverage with other stakeholders.

The revised regulations and guidelines thoroughly encompass all sectors, classifying them into two distinct categories: high risk and low risk, according to their economic activities. This categorisation ensures that every sector is aptly governed by these regulations. All four sectors registered under Better Work Jordan are designated as high risk. In addition, the MoL is committed to conducting awareness sessions for the sectors not yet covered, aiming to complete this initiative by the first quarter of 2024.

Representatives from the MoL, the Jordan Garments, Accessories, and Textiles Exporters’ Association (JGATE), the General Trade Union of Workers in Textile, Garment, and Clothing Industries (GTU), as well as Better Work Jordan took part in the seminar.

Eman Alabdallat, head of the Occupational Accidents and Injuries Department at the Directorate of Occupational Safety and Health in the MoL, emphasised that the amendments, unchanged for the past 20 years, have undergone significant development over the last three years. “We have worked to align these regulations with best practices in OSH, and we are committed to finalizing several decisions in this field throughout 2024,” she said.

To enhance awareness of these amendments, which took effect in August 2023, the MoL launched a comprehensive campaign targeting employers and enterprises. Alabdallat said that the MoL would refrain from taking legal action against violations of safety and health regulations in these enterprises until the beginning of 2024.

Ongoing monitoring of workers' health
In compliance with Regulation No. 31, an enterprise employing more than 20 workers is mandated to conduct a comprehensive assessment, analysis, and monitoring of occupational risks in the workplace. This involves identifying the workforce exposed to these risks and establishing necessary controls and protection measures.

Regulation No. 32 mandates the enterprise to maintain a medical record for the workforce, documenting periodic medical examinations conducted during the employment period, and taking necessary measures to ensure healthy conditions for all employees. This includes those with special health conditions, pregnant and lactating women, persons with disabilities/special needs, and those exposed to specific health risks.

The regulation links the number of medical staff in the facility to the number of employed workers and the economic activity's risk level.

Ahmad Abu El Failat, head of the Occupational Safety and Health Inspection Department at the OSH directorate, stressed that the regulations are applicable to enterprises and all their branches. These enterprises are obligated to monitor the health status of their workforce by maintaining records that document periodic medical examinations.

“Through this regulation, we ensure the ongoing monitoring of workers' health, acquiring information about their date of employment, nature of work, any health symptoms during their tenure, the risks they are exposed to, and the measures implemented to address their conditions.”

Improving health services urged
Regulation No. 33 details accreditation conditions and the roles of individuals overseeing occupational safety and health at technical and specialist levels. The regulation outlines safety and health committee duties, including preparing reports, monitoring workplace pollutants, and tracking accidents. It also mandates prompt reporting of injuries to the Ministry of Labour and relevant authorities.

Employers are mandated by instructions for risk assessment to implement a plan for precautions and preventive measures derived from evaluating environmental risks in the workplace. It is obligatory for employers to conduct periodic reviews of risk assessments and update the corresponding documents at least once every two years or as needed.

The seminar also covered several subjects affected by legislative amendments, such as sick leave policies, the required number of medical staff in enterprises, and specifications for medical clinics. It highlighted the importance of legislation to enhance the efficiency of healthcare services for the workforce and promote the improvement of safety conditions in enterprises.

As a follow-up, the OSH directorate will publish a Question and Answer (Q&A) Guideline in both Arabic and English. This guideline will be accessible on the MoL’s website by the first quarter of 2024.

The seminar was a testament to the strong partnership between the MoL and Better Work Jordan. It featured active participation from MoL representatives, who are part of the labour inspectors' secondment programme with Better Work Jordan. The MoL officials contributed valuable technical insights throughout the seminar. The seminar began with an engaging introduction led by Better Work Jordan, which also facilitated the question-and-answer session.