Workplace health and safety policy for tourism sector

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WINDHOEK – The Hospitality Association of Namibia as member of the Namibian Employers’ Federation has drafted an occupational health and safety policy for the Namibian hospitality sector, with the technical support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Government.

This integrated blueprint policy for the hospitality sector covers all the sector’s health and safety needs at the workplace, outlining the commitment and action on occupational safety and health and the prevention and management of HIV and other infectious and chronic diseases impacting the hospitality industry.

International and national tourism is one of the priority sectors for economic development in the country. Hospitality also forms the door through which international visitors enter the world of Namibian traditions and way of living. As such, hospitality is an important promoter of potential investment interest in the country.

While the wellbeing of guests is a central concern for hospitality establishments, health and safety of employees has equal importance. Only a healthy and safe business reaches optimal productivity and efficiency.

During a survey conducted by GIZ consultants in February and June 2014, it emerged that the number of occupational accidents is disproportionally high in Namibia compared to other countries with a similar economic status. Namibia is also perceived as one of the countries highly affected by infectious and non-communicable diseases.

The 2014 questionnaire survey among member companies of the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) showed that only about half of all respondents have an occupational health and safety policy in place and even less have formulated an HIV policy or conduct health promotion.
More than 40 percent of the respondent hotel managers admitted not to be familiar with the government’s regulation in respect to workplace health and safety protection.

The integrated policy on workplace health and safety presented to HAN and the Namibia Employers Federation (NEF) focuses on four key objectives, namely, to prevent occupational diseases and improve overall employee health, to reduce non-fatal (and fatal) occupational injuries, to increase employee productivity and job satisfaction and to minimize employer’s health care expenditures

In September 2014, four regional workshops (Otjiwarongo, Tsumeb, Lüderitz and Swakopmund) were held to introduce the hospitality sector to the policy.

HAN members will now be provided with a copy of the policy, while part of the GIZ project also enables NEF and HAN to organise a full occupational safety and health (OSH) workshop for HAN members as part of the association’s AGM in May 2015.

The aim of this will be to ensure that the industry strengthens its efforts and capacity in terms of occupational health and safety, thereby strengthening and improving service delivery within the tourism industry in general.