The Auditor General noted that enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH), 2006, has not been effective due to inadequate awareness and sensitization on OSH standards, limited personnel and logistics, absence of the National OSH Policy and an OSH Laboratory to analyse exposure measurement samples and to test personal protective equipment
The Auditor General has expressed concern that many workers in Uganda are unaware of their rights to a safe and healthy working environment despite existence of a law, which provides for the right of persons to work under satisfactory, safe and healthy conditions.
He said the workers have remained exposed to unhealthy working conditions, faulty plants and equipment, dangerous civil works and constructions leading to ill health and death.
The concern is contained in the Value for Money Audit Annual Report of the Auditor General for the year ended December 2016.
The Auditor General noted that enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH), 2006, has not been effective due to inadequate awareness and sensitization on OSH standards, limited personnel and logistics, absence of the National OSH Policy and an OSH Laboratory to analyse exposure measurement samples and to test personal protective equipment.
"There is need for the MoGLSD (Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development) to develop a framework for OSH training, awareness and information sharing at all levels as well as enhance cooperation with civil society organizations (NOTU, COFTU and FUE) to train and sensitize employers, workers and the general public in all aspects of OSH," he said.
The Value for Money Audit was about "enforcement of occupational safety and health activities at workplaces by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health under the ministry of gender labour and social development."
"Although Uganda's economy has registered a number of achievements, various aspects of occupational safety and health (OSH) have not been adequately addressed. Management of the OSH issues at workplaces continue to be left unattended to by different sectors of government and private sector," he said.
The Office of the Auditor General undertook a value for money audit on the enforcement of OSH activities at work places by the MoGLSD, to identify the challenges faced, analyse their underlying causes and make recommendations to address them.
Findings by the AG showed that out of the estimated one million work places in the country, only 756 were registered by the Ministry as at June 30, 2015 and that out of the 756 workplaces registered, none was a government entity.
It was also established that 39 of the workplaces registered by the Department from 2010 to 2012 had not renewed their certificates as at June 30 2015yet their statutory period of renewal had elapsed, the report said.
The findings also showed that out of the estimated one million work places in the country, only 476 were inspected over the three (3) years under review ,broken down as 212,125 and 139 in the FY 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15, respectively.
The Department of Occupational Safety and Health, the report said reviewed and approved only 75 building plans from Kampala, Wakiso, Entebbe, Mukono and Lyantonde districts, and realized Sh67.7m from approval fees. It was also noted that there was a conflict of mandates in the OSH Act and the Physical Planning Act, 2010.
The AG recommended that the Ministry should develop a comprehensive strategy to ensure that all workplaces are registered and registration certificates are renewed upon expiry.
Also develop and implement a systematic risk assessment criteria to identify and assess OSH hazards, and prioritize workplaces for inspection to enable the Ministry provide assurance that the available resources are used to carry out the most critical inspections.
The AG also wants enforcement penalties and sanctions for non-compliant workplaces as indicated in the inspection reports. In addition, where the penalties are not deterrent, the Ministry should consider including this issue as it reviews the OSH Act, the report said.
"The MoGLSD should liaise with the Ministry of Public Service to fill the staffing gaps and also strengthen collaboration with other government organs namely, districts as these have labour officers who can be used to further enforce OSH through inspections and follow up," he said.
To enhance the current coordination efforts, the ministry should consider entering into memoranda of understanding with the various Agencies (NEMA, District local governments, Ministry of Health and Uganda Police) to spell out their roles, responsibilities and expectations in the workplace occupational and safety value chain, it added.