Occupational risks and diseases

The increased awareness of the rights of working class people has led to the growth and wide acceptance of the concept of ‘health and safety at work’ which is required for moral and legal reasons, but also for financial reasons. The health and safety of workers in any profession or occupation is essential to increase their efficiency and productivity. Occupational health and safety, which is also known as OHS, imposes on the employer a duty to ensure the safety of all employees who work for him and are associated with his establishment against all occupational hazards. Occupational diseases are diseases suffered by a worker due to the nature of the work he performs. It is apart from occupational hazards.

Due to the spread of awareness of occupational diseases and the efforts of the ILO (International Labor Organization) to protect workers from such dangers, most countries, including the United Arab Emirates, have drafted laws to protect and provide safety measures by the employer for the prevention of occupational diseases. The regulation of the law of labor relations that is the federal law no. 8 of 1980 (subsequently known as ‘the law’) has such measures listed within itself. This article analyzes the measures that the employer must take to guarantee the safety of workers against occupational risks and diseases and the responsibilities of the employer towards a worker in the event that an occupational disease is diagnosed.

As part of the safety measures against occupational diseases, the law creates the duty of the employer to provide workers with adequate means of protection against the risks of injuries and occupational diseases that may occur during work. The measurements are as follows:

1. The first step the Employer is supposed to take is awareness. Workers must be aware of the risks and occupational diseases to which they are exposed during their work. The Employer must display in a prominent place in the workplace detailed instructions related to the measures taken for fire prevention and the protection of workers from the risks they may face during the performance of their work. Said instructions must appear in Arabic and in other languages ​​that the workers understand, since it is necessary that all the workers understand the instructions.

2. The Employer has the duty to appoint doctors for a complete health check-up and to examine the symptoms of occupational diseases every six months. The results of such examinations must be recorded by the employer. The Department of Labor must be notified if symptoms of any occupational disease appear in any worker’s examination reports.

3. The employer must provide workers with the means of medical care in accordance with the standards determined by the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, and in conjunction with the Minister of Health.

4. The employer is also obliged to adopt all other security measures established by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. The worker must be provided with safety equipment and clothing in order to protect himself from hazards.

5. Apart from this, the employer must also provide first aid facilities for the workers. The cleaning and ventilation of the workplace must be in accordance with the standards of the Ministry of Health. Likewise, the employer must maintain adequate lighting, drinking water and hygienic toilet facilities in the workplace.

Hours No. 1 of the law establishes a list of occupational diseases that includes poisoning by lead and its compounds, poisoning by mercury and its compounds, poisoning by arsenic and its compounds, poisoning by antimony and its components, poisoning by phosphorus and its compounds, poisoning by petroleum , its products, compounds and by-products, Manganese poisoning and its compounds, Sulfur mineral poisoning and its compounds, Petroleum poisoning, its gases, compounds and by-products, Chloroform and carbon tetrachloride poisoning, Sickness derived from radium or radioactive substances ( X-rays), Chronic skin diseases, skin and eye burns, Eye damage caused by heat and light and its complications, Lung diseases resulting from silica dust, asbestos (asbestos dust) or cotton dust, Anthrax, Edema, Tuberculosis and Typhoid Fever.

The law also provides for compensatory indemnities for the worker when he is diagnosed with an occupational disease. The first relief the employer is supposed to provide is medical care. The employer must bear all costs of the worker’s treatment at a local government or private medical center until the worker recovers or is proven disabled by medical examinations. Said treatment will include the expenses of hospitalization or stay in a sanatorium, surgeries, x-rays and medical tests, medications and rehabilitation equipment, and the supply of prostheses and other prosthetic devices when disability is established. The employer is also obliged to bear all transportation costs in the treatment process.

In the event that the worker is unable to work due to illness injury, the employer shall pay him an allowance equal to full salary for the entire period of treatment, or for a period of six months when the period of treatment is more than six months. The subsidy will be reduced by half for the period following six months or until the worker fully recovers, is declared disabled or dies.

The Law provides compensation in case of permanent partial disability of the worker. In such cases, a schedule is established by law where the amount of compensation is established according to the type and degree of disability.

In the event of permanent and total disability, the compensation to be paid is similar to that granted in the event of the worker’s death due to occupational risk or illness. In the event of death, the worker’s family receives compensation. The family members who receive compensation are the family members who are wholly or mainly dependent on the deceased worker. The beneficiaries are, therefore, the following:

1. The widow(s).
2. The children, namely:
has. Children under the age of 17, those under the age of 24 regularly enrolled in academic institutions, and children who are mentally or physically incapacitated to such an extent that they cannot earn a living for themselves. The term “children” shall include the children of the deceased worker’s dependent husband or wife at the time of her death.
b. Unmarried daughters, including also the unmarried daughters of the deceased worker’s dependent husband or wife at the time of her death.

3. Parents.
4. Siblings under the conditions established for sons and daughters.

The amount of compensation awarded in the event of the death of a worker is equal to the worker’s base salary for a period of 24 months. A minimum limit is established on this amount of compensation which is eighteen thousand dirhams and the maximum limit is established at thirty-five thousand dirhams. The last salary of the worker must be considered when calculating the base salary.

Said compensation will not be granted to the worker in the following cases:

1. The worker intentionally injures himself to commit suicide.
2. The worker is intentionally injured in order to receive the amount of compensation.
3. The worker is intentionally injured due to sick leave.
4. At the time of the accident, the worker is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
5. The worker intentionally failed to comply with the employer’s safety instructions.
6. The worker is injured due to his serious fault.
7. The refusal, without just cause, by the worker to submit to regular medical examinations for the diagnosis of occupational disease.

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