At a strategic session entitled: “Conceptual framework of occupational safety and health through the prism of new challenges” at XI Kazakhstan International Conference and Exhibition on Occupational Health and Safety – KIOSH 2023, local and foreign experts discussed problems of occupational health and safety at workplaces and enterprises, and considered ways of addressing them, taking into account the best world experience.
In his welcoming speech, Deputy Prime Minister Altai Kulginov emphasized that the new social policy is one of the important components of the profound political modernization and large scale transformation of the economy in our country. And an important step towards its implementation was the Social Code signed by the Head of State.
“In the context of the new social policy, special attention will be paid to saving labour resources by creating safe working conditions, insuring against social risks and increasing the level of social protection of the employed population”, said the Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan.
He also focused on the main issues of the draft Concept of Safe Labour in Kazakhstan developed by the social partners and urged all conference participants to discuss it.
In her turn, Tamara Duisenova, Minister of Labour and Social Protection of the Republic of Kazakhstan, informed that the Concept aims at improving the quality of labour life of employees and saving labour resources.
“Instead of certifying production facilities for working conditions, it is proposed to introduce an occupational risk assessment. It will be based on 5 criteria: harmfulness of working conditions, injury rate, safety of equipment, provision of personal protective equipment and morbidity rate. The proposed mechanism will result in a new classification of labour conditions according to the degree of professional risk not only for enterprises but also for specific workplaces,” said Duisenova.
The next direction of the Concept is the differentiation of insurance rates depending on the degree of professional risk.
The Minister said that there are also plans to introduce a system of occupational risk management, which implies a shift from dealing with the consequences of accidents to preventing and preempting them.
Mr. Satybaldy Dauletalin, Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of Kazakhstan, shared his views on the role of workers’ representatives in ensuring public control in the enterprise.
He noted the fruitful cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection during the drafting of the Safe Work Concept and welcomed the MLSP’s initiatives to move from a cost-based to a risk-based model of BIOT.
“The so-called compensatory model of occupational health and safety management has taken shape in our country over the years. It is based on the reaction to accidents that have already happened, based on the results of an investigation. However, the potential of this system is now practically exhausted; it does not work in the context of the challenges of the digital economy. We need to create a model that is responsive and works in a changing environment. From this point of view, the new Workplace Safety Concept proposed by the Ministry is in line with the risk-oriented approach. We, as workers’ representatives, are also satisfied with the provision that risk assessment will be carried out specifically at the workplace, not just within a profession or position,” said Satybaldy Dauletalin.
However, the President of the Federation of Trade Unions highlighted three main sets of issues in evaluating different models of accident insurance for workers.
Firstly, as emphasised by the Head of the FTUC, the insurance system should promote accident prevention measures.
“Its elements should clearly serve as an incentive for employers to maximize safe working conditions in the workplace. Determining the degree of risk in this way will contribute to improving the culture of safe work in the economy,” said Satybaldy Dauletalin.
Secondly, trade unions believe that when an insured event occurs, rehabilitation processes must be ensured for the injured worker.
“It is important that the person should recover as quickly as possible and return to their job or, if this is not possible, be able to find another job suitable for their health condition,” said the chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions.
The third block provides for fair, sufficient and adequate compensation for the damage to health and lost earnings.
“It would be pertinent to note here the current practice of determining the degree of fault of the parties for the occurrence of the accident, which directly affects the amount of compensation that the worker will eventually receive. Our analysis has shown that 70% of accidents are the fault of the employer. Undoubtedly, trade unions as employee representatives should be active in fostering a workplace culture among employees and in educating them. Regarding the degree of fault, we believe that it is necessary to exclude from the legislation mixed liability with a definition of the degree of fault of the employee and the employer. The employers should be primarily responsible for production processes and especially their safety. And we firmly believe that such a formulation of the issue will fundamentally strengthen the obligations of employers to create safe working conditions. International practice shows that mixed liability no longer exists. If an accident occurs in the workplace, it is the employer’s fault,” added Satybaldy Dauletalin.
According to him, the Federation of Trade Unions is currently preparing a number of relevant proposals for further improvement of the labour legislation.
The employer’s position on the introduction of workplace risk assessment was voiced by Nikolai Radostovets, Executive Director of the Republican Association of Mining and Metallurgical Enterprises.
Many advanced companies in the industry already practice risk assessments and take certain measures to minimise risks, he said.
At the same time, he believes it is necessary to develop certain approaches to encourage employers to improve workplace safety.
“We see a good idea, but there are so many workplaces with hazardous conditions. We need to come together and create an incentive for employers to reduce the number of jobs with harmful conditions with a transition to normal conditions. We would like to see support from the social partners. There are jobs where it is quite difficult to assess these risks. So we need companies that will do an independent assessment. We need to understand how this will be done in the mine, in this or that workplace. We believe that we need to continue the discussion, to make calculations and properly build the roadmap,” Radostovets urged.
Gulnara Zhumageldieva, Deputy Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions for the development of social control in enterprises, spoke in detail at the Conference.
Speaking at the panel session: “Forum of inspectors “Preventive control and social partnership: new challenges and interaction”, Gulnara Zhumageldieva drew attention to the problem of limited functionality and lack of broad powers of technical inspectors.
“Proposals of the Federation of Trade Unions are aimed at increasing responsibility for failure to provide appropriate conditions for occupational safety and health, establishing production councils for employers who are medium and large businesses, significantly increasing the powers, incentives and responsibilities of technical inspectors,” Gulnara Zhumageldieva said.
One of the Trade Unions Federation’s proposals is to organise joint inspections using the “state labour inspector-technical labour safety inspector” format. At the same time, the Federation of Trade Unions proposes to delegate some of the powers of state labour inspectors to works councils.
An effective step, she says, would be to develop the principles of industrial democracy.
“Following the example of production councils, it is possible to create bodies for quality control, recruitment and training of personnel, development of rationalisation and mentoring, creation of councils for application of the best examples of safe work practices, etc.,” said Gulnara Zhumageldieva.
She called on the social partners to promote the inclusion in regional agreements of specific provisions for the legitimate right of trade unions to freely visit workplaces to meet with labour collectives and conduct public monitoring of compliance with labour laws.
In turn, Ermek Aralov, technical inspector of KSP Steel LLP, highlighted the special role of the technical inspector for labour protection as an example of his enterprise.
“The work on labour protection and prevention of occupational injuries is carried out in accordance with the company’s Labour Protection Management System, which provides for coverage in preventive work of all workers from worker to director of KSP Steel LLP under a three-stage system of control over the state of labour protection. There are 43 technical inspectors for occupational safety, who work in close contact with the occupational safety and health service. The technical supervisors receive one hour of paid time each year and are paid an additional 5 MCI. The best technical inspector is awarded quarterly prizes by the trade union committee,” said Yermek Aralov.
By the way, KSP Steel LLP is the first Kazakhstani enterprise producing seamless steel pipes for the oil and gas industry, which employs over 4,500 people.
Accоrding to Yermek Aralov, the company’s trade union actively promotes the principles of zero injuries, technical inspectors contribute to activation of the works council, and all parties of the social partnership are interested in promotion of occupational health and safety issues.
Media Center of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan