14 August 2009
The Thai Cabinet approved the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Environment Bill (the "Bill") on 10 July 2009. The Bill sets out the government's long-term policy on health and safety in the workplace.
Labour Protection Act B.E. 2541 (1998)
Presently, occupational safety standards are governed by Chapter 8 of the Labour Protection Act B.E. 2541 (1998) (the "Act"). This Act prescribes the creation of a Committee for Safety, Occupational Sanitation and Working Environment, which has the power to present to the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare measures to promote occupational safety. The Minister, in turn, can issue Ministerial Regulations to improve the working conditions of workers. A number of Ministerial Regulations have been passed pursuant to this mandate.
The Bill will amend and add new provisions to the eleven-year old Act. These changes aim to elevate the standards of occupational safety in Thailand. The key changes are as follows:
Employers must maintain safe, healthy and environmentally-friendly working conditions. They are also required to provide workers with training and information on avoiding occupational injuries.
Registration of Safety and Health Service Providers
Persons who provide examinations, verifications, risk assessments, training and consulting on occupational safety and working environment must be registered with the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare.
These new officials are empowered to inspect workplaces, check machinery and equipment, collect evidence, and interview relevant persons to verify the working environment of a company. These safety inspectors can order employers to improve working conditions, or repair or stop the use of unsafe or dangerous machinery or equipment.
Occupational Safety, Health and Working Environment Fund
This fund will support the activities of public and private organisations aimed at promoting occupational safety and a healthy working environment. It can also be tapped by employers seeking to improve the working conditions of their companies.
The Bill will be taken to the House of Representatives, whose approval will make the Bill into an enforceable act.
The Bill is only a blueprint of the Thai government's commitment to make occupational safety a priority. Employers and companies, especially those which are labour intensive, will have to wait for the passage of the act and the relevant Ministerial Regulations to gauge the changes they will need to adopt to comply with the new law.
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Araya Akomsoonthorn (
Chawatak Ardnaseaw (
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