The Occupational Health and Safety Law, 2019 (OHSL) was enacted on March 15, 2019. It aims to implement measures for occupational health and safety across every industry, and it sets out the responsibilities of employers and employees. Though the law has been enacted, its enforcement will not begin until the president issues a relevant notification.
The OHSL broadly covers all industries across government departments, organizations, cooperatives, and private businesses owned by foreign nationals or citizens. Highlights of the OHSL include the following:
The OHSL requires any business covered by the OHSL to register with the Factory and General Labor Law Inspection Department for occupational health and safety–related matters. Businesses must notify the department when winding up, ceasing operations, or undergoing any other changes.
Responsibilities of Employers
The OHSL requires employers to appoint occupational health and safety officers and form occupational health and safety committees (OHSCs) subject to a minimum number of workers’ representatives set by the Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population. General obligations on employers include conducting risk assessments on the use of equipment and machinery, arranging medical checkups by a certified doctor for workers, enforcing the wearing of appropriate safety uniforms/overalls, and appointing registered doctors and nurses for workplaces with minimum thresholds of employees prescribed by the Ministry. Employers that do not comply with these responsibilities will be subject to a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months, a fine from MMK 1 million to 5 million, or both.
The OHSL requires employers to notify the department upon the occurrence of occupational injuries, hazardous occurrences, or employees contracting any prescribed occupational disease due to materials used in the workplace or a work process. A term of imprisonment for up to one month, a fine of up to MMK 2 million, or both will apply to employers for noncompliance in this regard.
Responsibilities of Employees
General responsibilities of employees under the OHSL include following instructions set by employers or the OHSC or officers, such as regarding the use of machinery and equipment and the wearing of safety uniforms. Current or former employees who contract an occupational disease and were/are being treated by the registered doctor must also notify the employer and Department to this effect.
Enforcement by the OHSC will also be beneficial for employees not covered by the Social Security Law, 2012 (SSL). In the event an employee contracts an occupational disease, his or her employer must cover the medical expenses even if its business is exempt from registration under the SSL. Therefore, enforcement of the OHSL should confer benefits on employees, as the OHSL gives inspectors the authority to inspect workplaces at any time without a warrant to ensure that businesses adhere to its provisions.
Written by Mya Thita Oo and William D. Greenlee, Jr., of DFDL and Roger James of Ogletree Deakins
© 2019 DFDL and Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.