Kapili defines the role of Pandemic Act in occupational safety


The COVID-19 pandemic is not the result of the work, a government official said.

Labor and Industrial Relations Minister Tomait Kapili (pictured) said COVID-19 is a disease outside of work, which has been triggered by other health factors, similar to tuberculosis, cancer, HIV / AIDS and should be seen and treated as such.

He said any new workplace policy developed by employers on COVID-19 vaccination should be in line with the provisions of the national pandemic law.

Mr Kapili said this while clarifying COVID-19 and workplace issues.

He said the legal context for dealing with COVID-19 in the workplace should take into consideration two pieces of legislation that should govern COVID-19-related activities in the workplace.

These are the National COVID-19 Pandemic Act of 2020 and the Occupational Safety, Health and Welfare Act (Chapter 175) of 1961 and the Regulations of 1965, for the application of the law on safety, health and well-being at work.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic law of 2020 addresses issues related to the coronavirus, the Occupational Safety, Health and Welfare Act is silent on any reference to any migratory disease, epidemic and pandemic, including including COVID-19, which did not result. of a professional activity ”, declared Mr. Kapili.

“Notification of illness or injury under Part V, Division 1, Article 34 of the Occupational Safety, Health and Welfare Act only relates to illnesses and injuries sustained or existing during employment and not any other illness suffered outside of work.

“Essentially, the duty of care is triggered by a physical work situation and results from a work activity between an employer and an employee,” Kapili said.

“Work-related illnesses, accidents and injuries are negligent duty of care.

“Therefore, the COVID-19 pandemic is not the result of professional activity, but must be treated like malaria, HIV / AIDS, tuberculosis, colds and flu and other epidemics under public health disease control laws.

“The administration of COVID-19 vaccination falls within the scope of the National Pandemic Law 2020 for any interpretation such that we cannot use the concept of due diligence as grounds for compulsory vaccination of workers.

“All workplace policies developed by employers on COVID-19 vaccination must be consistent and comply with the provisions of the National Pandemic Law of 2020.”

The position of the department, in view of the above, is as follows;

There is no such law as the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act;

The laws on occupational safety and health administered by the Ministry of Labor and Industrial Relations are silent on the COVID-19 pandemic, any epidemic and other migratory diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV / AIDS and cancer;

Health problems related to occupational safety and health refer to illnesses resulting from work-related incidents, accidents and injuries;

Only work-related illnesses and injuries are subject to the Workmen’s Compensation Act; and,

The employer’s duty of care arises or comes into play when there is physical labor activity between an employer and an employee.

“This is the new law that governs matters relating to COVID-19,” Kapili said. “Vaccination against COVID-19 is not mandatory instead, it is voluntary and should remain so.

“Whenever possible, employers are encouraged to implement new standard protocols in their workplace. “

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