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Topic 29: Tackling Occupational Hazards in Developing Countries


It has been estimated that people in developing countries are exposed to more than 80% of global occupational hazards. These hazards are associated with risks that are likely to cause diseases, injuries, even as much as fatalities to workers. Some of the students on this blog are from developing countries and to an extent aware of the healthy and safety regulations in their home countries. Can we discuss ways of implementing interventions to address these hazards and how the national governments can improve their roles in establishing rules for a better workplace, providing a system of information dissemination and enforcing regulations.


michael saiki's picture

The concept of occupational hazard and risk is universal but mitigation to ALARP is variant because of different scenario that each geographical location poses. Trust me the most fundamental component of this is legislation. Why is the Norwegian region seen as more stringent, because of the value placed on human life and the need to optimize safety.

It is therefore obvious that developing countries dont take safety seriously or have insufficient legislation to minimize these risks.

Also because most of the companies are large corporations they have a lot of influence on the systems and so engineer the legislation to suit their interests.

Again developing countries do not have the know how to effectively formulate a functional HSE legislation so what you get--ACCIDENTS

Fungisai N Nota's picture

 I agree with you and the issue arises where we see developed
countries going to developing counties and exploiting them for cheap labour
with people working long hours and in bad conditions. The issue being there are
no legislative condition or very few to tackle these problem and very little is
done to enforce them. If we see the risk assessment being carried out well proper
protective clothing and equipment being used this would go a long way to reduce
occupational hazards even as little as having safe hours of work and correct
light within the work environment would be well welcome.


Fungisai Nota BEng(Hons) MIET

Menelaos Michelakis's picture

In my view, trying to solve such a problem is like trying to solve the worldwide capitalism problem. The main discussion topic title, implies that in developing countries there are more occupational hazards than in developed countries. This happens because in developed countries the legislative regime is different, but also because the society mechanism is developed, generally the state is richer and this is what makes the difference.

Richer countries are exploiting poorer countries. They are buying in low prices raw materials, scientists and in general everything worthy, and export manufactured products, this is the main reason they are developed.

Considering safety in older times, 50 years ago for instance, developed countries had better production rates and increased safety for all kind of workers, due to mechanisation. Today, this continues in a different form because of the banking system, and i shall set an example so everyone understands better what i mean. The 2 countries of the example are chosen in random.

A drilling company in liberia wishes to purchase a drilling machine. Also, in France, a french drilling company wishes to purchase a new drilling machine and get rid of the old one. So the french company, sells the old drilling machine at 25% of its original value. The liberian company cannot afford buying a brand new drilling machine, so searches on the internet and buys the second hand french one. This happens because Liberia and France have different currencies, and one euro means much more money in Liberia than in France. So the liberian company, is somehow ''forced'' to buy the second hand drilling machine, something that decreases safety for liberian workers compared to french workers. The drilling machine example is chosen at random, and i am sure that several others can be found.

To conclude, trying to solve such a problem is like trying to solve something much bigger in my view.

Ref : K.Marx, Capital

Craig Donaldson's picture

I completely agree with you. This is just the way the world works right now. For example, the majority of the manufacturing in the UK has moved elsewhere because they can pay employees far less in other less developed country to do the exact same thing and they have to spend less capital ensuring the safety of their workforce. In these countries they don't have legislation to protect the average worker and often nothing which describes what safety measures should be put in place.

Large international corporations will to some extent apply regulations from other countries to their operations because they would not like to be seen to be acting irresponsibly by the wider global community. However, small to medium sized companies who may only operate within a developing company would have no such quandary because they have no international business which would be affected. So in my opinion it is these companies who should be targeted and encouraged to align themselves with international safety practice.

xenios.ze's picture

I like simplicity and Menelaos has
managed to bring up an example that is quite simple and accurate concerning the
safety issues in developing countries. Local companies that are struggling to
win a contest for government’s projects are buying second hand equipment in
order to achieve a minimum bid and get the project. Sometimes these equipments
are faulty or need trained people to handle them and to make the necessary maintenance.
If those problems occur the least bad thing that can happen is to delay the
project, the worst thing though, is to harm the workers. On the other hand, companies
that work in international level will apply the same rules no matter what
country they employ manpower, either that is in developing or developed


MSc Oil and Gas Engineering

Xenios Zenieris

Abdulazeez Bello's picture

Mr Chukelu, Am not in agreement with
your estimate that” 80% of global occupational hazard exist in developing
countries”. Kindly back your data with reference. This is not to say that the safety
regime existing in developing countries is Commendable. They have their
challenges just like any other nation.

The term hazard in accident
sequence refers to an object or substance that has the potential to inflict
harm or cause damage to persons, property or the environment. The hazard has
the potential to release or convert energy in all its forms. Safety is about identifying
that hazard and managing the magnitude of energy associated with it {1].

 From the above explanation, you will agree
with me that hazard exist in every event we embark on especially as it relates
with Energy. The ability to manage the risk associated with this hazard depends
on the safety legislation existing in individual countries.  Most countries have good safety legislation
but enforcing them has become a major challenge even among the developed ones.  The only way safety practices can be universally
accepted is when Multinationals adhere to the notion of “International best
practice” everywhere they operate and not just in their parent country.

1.            Renton, N.C., Baker, J. M.,
Tan, H, 2012/2013 Fundamental safety Engineering and Risk management concepts



Samuel Bamkefa's picture

While agreeing with the posts that have gone above, I will like to extend the view of this issue

One problem with developing nations is bad data keeping. Poor data keeping culture makes the extent of the effects of the hazards hard to measure. There are many countries that cannot produce basic data on safety statistics. If some data are not quantified and qualified, it may be hard to trace where the problem is occurring and consequently tackle them. For example, answering questions relating to levels of accident in different sectors and the pattern of the accidents is a major step on the way to being answered with good data. Another result of this is that the extent of accident events can easily be downplayed.

In addition to these and as unpleasing as it sounds, corruption also plays a factor in the reduction in levels of occupational safety. Sometimes the legislations are actually in place, but the people to enforce do not do a good job of it. Unscrupulous companies do exploit this to keep themselves from spending some money

Solving the problem of occupational safety in developing countries will require efforts by the regulators, companies as well as the employees themselves

Samuel Bamkefa

Kyle McFarlane's picture

I agree with Michael Saiki in that the concept of ALARP being the main reason for variables in safety but this reason consists of many contributing factors. As almost previously mentioned above developing countries lack the money and infastructure companies here take for granted. 

 Therefore when you try and apply ALARP, the balance of how safe is safe enough? Is really brought into question because in order to compete and succeed theses countries almost need to cut corners in relation to safety to ensure theyre assets make a gain. 

I believe a soloution to the problem of lack of safety measures in developing countries could be challanged by large companies such as BP for example sponsoring some safety executives to try and educate and create some oppurtunites for safety to be taken more seriously. 

As for the whole capatilism being flawed path of thinking though I do see the holes in the system and how they apply to this example, I cant see much of a change happening there anytime soon. 

I feel it would be better to start small and move to sharing the extensive health and safety legislation we have here in a means that could be applicable to their financial needs and aims.


Kyle McFarlane 

Brenda Amanda's picture

This is a contentious issue. My
views and examples will be limited to the Ugandan environment.

In my opinion, the reason why the
work environment is not as safe as it should be in developing countries is
laxity on the part of both the common man and government. If our governments
held the safety of the common man in high regard, then legislation would be
made and implemented to that effect. Companies need to do business and will
therefore adhere to the rules and regulations so they are not caught on the
wrong side of the law.

The people in the workforce have
also gotten complacent and the status quo
has been maintained. For example (in the Ugandan capital, Kampala), out of
every 100,000 construction workers, 92 are involved in fatal accidents while
4248 sustain major injuries on the site per year [1].

Unfortunately, we are at a point
where these statistics do not make headlines. The responsible bodies start to
make investigations but the findings never released and nobody ends up doing
anything and before long, more lives are lost in a senseless manner. Most often
than not, the deaths and injuries could have been foreseen and prevented if the
mechanisms in place had been followed.

The difference in Europe is that
the common man has a voice and is listened to. If the government wants to build
more nuclear power plants and the people say ‘No’. The government will not
start until the issues brought forward are resolved to the satisfaction of the

In Uganda, if the construction
workers decide not to work until protective gear is provided, they will be
fired and new workers got the next day. It’s the cruel truth. The worker’s
family has to eat so nobody says anything.

The occupational safety issue
like most of the problems plaguing us can only be tackled effectively when the
regulators start to do their work. The safety records in the UK have a lot to
do with the stringent HSE regulations and those that enforce these regulations.


Henry Tan's picture

“The difference in Europe is that the common man has a voice and is listened to” ---- Maybe this is the so called “Democracy” that can be very important for creating a safe working environment?

Menelaos Michelakis's picture

(Answer to Dr Henry Tan)

Dear Dr. Tan, i do not think that the common man in Europe has a voice. It seems that he has but he has not. The rights he has gained, as well as the improved legislation regime are mostly part of the economic system (more advanced economy). Today, in the bureaucratic society that occurs, in developed countries, part of the money is distributed among society, and this influences the safety sector too.

The word democracy is greek. The 2 greek words that compose it are dimos which means the people of the state, and kratos which means power. Altogether, it means that the people of the state have the power to rule themselves. In other words they rule themselves and the state. If you read an ancient greek history book around 500B.C you will understand that the ancient Athenians, for instance, were deciding (by vote) all together in order to make a war. They were ruling themselves. This will not happen today. Poor people will become soldiers, and rich people will stay home and watch the war on the TV.

In Athens, by that time, if someone had much money he was somehow obliged to help the city, else he was considered as enemy of the democracy, and he could be punished in many ways. Today, the opposite happens. Rich people rule, behind politicians. And even richer people, rule rich people, lords for instance. So, increased safety, in developed countries, comes from the economic growth in the first place, and secondarily because of fights of the working class in previous ages.

Please have a look at my previous post in this discussion topic.

Ref : 1. Thoukidides, the peloponesian war

2. V.Lenin, Imperialism, the highest stage of Capitalism  

Samira Bamdad's picture

I think that Dr Tan has a point. It is democracy that
improves the general public’s standard of living. Was it due to the economic advancement
- as Menelaos suggests – we should have still lived a Dickensian life or
otherwise Marxism taken over the entire world.

Democracy gives the common man a word to demand security,
safety and dignity, without being ignored or brushed aside. The story with the
Liberian company in search of a second hand drilling machine is that quite
possibly the Liberian company will charge the same machine at a grossly
inflated rate to the Liberian government with the help of a corrupt official
and the people of Liberia will remain worse off than if they had given the
contract to the French company in the first place.

The process of economic/social development in many third
world countries has slowed down following their independence from their
former colonial occupiers.

Brenda Amanda's picture


Dr. Tan,

I don't think Democracy has a lot
to do with creation of a safe working environment per se. What I  meant to
put across is that in the third world countries, the people's views in general
everyday life have been ignored for so long that we have accepted it as the

We have regulations that might
actually be similar to the HSE regulations but we do not have people or
mechanisms in place to make sure these are followed through to the letter like
it is here.



xenios.ze's picture

Laws and safety regulations are voted
regardless the system of government of each state. The inspection is what
counts the most. If the authority of each state carries out continuous inspections
then the level of safety is increased. Let’s take the example of Libya. Libya was
not a republic and had a lot of oil companies that were extracting oil from Libya’s
oil reserves. All those companies are still there after the war and apply the same
safety regulations that are applied worldwide for each company independently.

I am also aware that companies that
undertake huge projects like airports, LNG facilities, skyscrapers are also
companies with international reputation and are taking safety issues very
seriously. Did anyone hear that countries with federal monarchy like the United
Arab Emirates have problems with safety issues in those large projects that
developed those countries over the last decade? I don’t think so, because people
are still going there to seek for employment.  

For this Democracy is not what makes
the industries to improve in health and safety issues.

MSc Oil and Gas Engineering

Xenios Zenieris


I will agree with my colleagues especially Samuel ,the issue of occupational hazards is worse in developing countries but for me i think corruption is what is killing us and not lack of money.Enforcing health and Safety at work place has less to do with money.

I will tell you this with experience from my  home country Uganda.We do have all the health and safety regulations in place but who minds whether they are implemented or not? The health and safety inspectors are not doing a good job and some are compromised for the sake of money.I happened to work in a steel manufacturing industry as a Shift Engineer but one of the challenges I faced was that my bosses were much concerned about production than worker's safety.I would order for protective gear and they would take ages to deliver them and the problem is that given the high level of unemployment,workers would rather risk their health than losing their jobs just because they have refused to work without protective gear.

Safety is not taken to be a serious issue and the fact that developing countries are in need of investors,most top government officials just massage them even when they are not following the set regulations because they pay alot of taxes.Even when the responsible officers find things being done wrongly in a given industry,no action is taken because some officers are compromised. I think the difference between developed countries like Europe and developing countries is that for them they have true democracy just like Dr.Tan has stated in that the voice of the people is heard.

Now the only way Occupational Hazards can be handled in developing countries is getting the right people in the right positions who are ready to serve all citizens equally without fear or  favor and can listen and attend to their problems otherwise even the young Engineers may not have much to do because they are not decision makers in industries and may not be willing to lose their jobs by leading strikes at work. However good the legislation on health and safety of any country may be,it is of no value unless it is implemented.


John Bosco Aliganyira

Msc.Oil and Gas Engineering 

Hanifah N. Lubega's picture

I am very impressed by Brenda's views on this because they seem to have brought out all i had in mind. JohnBosco, you may be right, but do we even have safety inspectors in Uganda? Yes, we have the Occupational health and safety Act 2006 which seems clear about ensuring safety in work places and work environments and a  Department of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) in the Directorate of Labour, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development with mandate to enforce the Act and provide training, but i think what is focussed on most is section 41 of the Act which provides for an OHS fee to be paid by companies before regitration of work places. No safety inspections are carried out whatsoever apart from the out cries for external technical support and more finances. As long as a company has an approval letter from the National Enviornment Authority which is issued after Environmental Impact Assessments have been reviwed, they are considered safety to operate regardless of whether what is described in reports or plans is what is implemented!!

The rate of curruption and government influence in the country cannot allow some of the regulations to actually be implemented. Why would i bring in government influence? Well, some if not majority of the reasonable manufacturing companies (Do not quote me!) have an inclination to some government individuals in terms of partnerships. So to them some of these requirements are above them (they think) and all fatalities and/or accidents can be ignored. It is the very few companies with a safety culture that have tried to ensure good safety practices within them especially those aiming for ISO certificates. So before our government officials embrace the safety culture issue, we will continue to experience high fatality rates in this regard.

Going to Dr. Tans comment od "Democracy" being part of the solution, i think this can never happen. I know its coming from Brenda's issue of the common man in Europe having a voice, but i  think its more about knowing the law, rights and obligations. In Uganda, the laws relating to safety and work place hazards are known to the educated few yet these companies like steel rolling mills, tobacco and chemical companies among others mainly emply the local labourers who only focus on how much they are earning from the job regardless of the working conditions.

 In a nut shell, developing countries have lots of challenges beginging from governments perception towards safety (do they see it as a luxury?), workers ignorance of the law, enforcement mechanisms and improved technologies in developing industries. With these improved i think we could get close to this facinating safety and reliablity culture.



The Occupational health and safety Act 2006

Brenda Amanda's picture

I completely agree with both
Hanifa and John. The issue isn't really whether we have these laws or not;
because we do. The point is that the workers do not know their rights and the
employers do not have to answer for their worker’s health and safety. Having
worker’s insured against accidents even in the most risk-prone work places is
almost unheard of. As John mentioned earlier, we don't have regular inspections
at the various work places, be it construction sites, manufacturing companies
or otherwise. I hope with the oil industry developing now we'll have serious
regulators since the risks associated with the industry are quite big.

I suppose it's just as well that
we've got international companies majorly involved in the business (Tullow Oil,
Total E&P and CNOOC). They have to adhere to international regulatory
standards so hopefully the other sectors will catch up. One can only hope so.

We are here in Europe and getting exposure to the way things should be done so hopefully we'll find an avenue of making a contribution in the worker's health and safety in some way. 

Monday Michael's picture

There is no doubt that safety is key to thesuccess of every engineering/technological pursuit. It is for this reason that organizationsdevote time and resources to safety. However, this does not seem to be the casein developing countries.  Availablestatistics indicate that safety is either consciously or unconsciously relegatedto the background in developing countries. Examples abound from Africa (the Chevronoil platform disaster off the coast of Nigeria[5]) to Asia (Bhopal gas disaster in India and the numerous mine disasters in China).


In developed countries, employees areconstantly being kept abreast of safety regulations through training andrefresher courses such as BOSIET, NEBOSH, HUET, COSHH, First Aid, IOSH ManagingSafely, OSHAS etc. The government regulators such as the Health and SafetyExecutive in the UK,monitor organizations and ensure that they fulfill this obligation. However, inthe developing countries the twin problem of corruption on the part ofgovernment regulators to waive or relax this requirement for employers and thedesire of employers to short change the system (in this case their employeesand the government regulators) all combine to reduce safety to a trivial issue withthe attendant large number of injuries and fatalities as a consequence.


The health and safety legislation in mostdeveloping countries are not as stringent, hence employers are able to get awaywith less and infrequent health and safety trainings for their employees andthe consequence is the alarming occupational injuries and fatalities from thedeveloping countries (that is if the cases that are reported in the first place).There is also a culture of non- reporting with the organisation and mediablackouts of such events to the outside world.


With your permission Dr Tan, I will like todigress a little bit. The seemingly lack of stringent health and safetylegislation in the developing countries is also the reason why the fatalitiesand injuries to employees and members of the public is high (Bhopalin India).It is also the reason why there is colossal damage to the environment by themultinational companies e.g the Nigerdelta in Southern Nigeria [2], in Brazil[3] and Ecuador[4] which has affected the livelihoods of the host communities.


In order to fully tackle the menace ofoccupational hazards in developing countries, the government should strengthentheir respective health and safety legislations to international standards andensure that any violations by any individual or organization no matter howhighly placed or influential is brought to justice. Any such strengtheningshould be similar to the UK’scorporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act of 2007, which implies that companiesand organizations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of seriousmanagement failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care [5].Alternatively, the Health and Safety legislation of the home countries of themultinational companies should be evoked, whichever is heftier.


The issue of training for employees cannot beoveremphasized as ‘knowledge is power’. Employees should be trained and keptabreast of latest developments in the performance of the jobs. Last but certainlynot the least, the companies should enlighten the host communities about thenature of their business, the risk inherent in their processes and the effectsof sabotage of the company’s installations, as alleged by the some of themultinational oil companies operating in the Niger delta area of south Nigeria.











Elvis.E.Osung's picture

Okechukwu, you have raised a salient point. 

In my own estimation the high statistics of occupational hazards in developing countries is caused by but not limited to the following factors: knowledge of the hazard by the staffs, poor legislations on safety, lack of or poor monitoring of compliance with safety regulations, prevailing poverty, cutting of cost by the companies, low value placed on human life, poor accident and incidence documentation.Its most likely one would fall into a ditch if you are oblivious of the presence of a hole in your pathway, this is the prevailing condition in our work place, workers in developing countries usually do not know the hazards present in their working environment, this lack of knowledge is sometimes propagated by the organisations who employ them whose primary goal is to make profit and as such is not bordered about mitigating or eliminating hazards in the work place, this organisations in order to cut cost sometimes do not provide PPE which is the last line of defence against an accidents. Even when the worker is aware of the hazard, he is sometimes left with the option of managing to work without PPE for the sake of making ends meet (poverty).I can go on explaining the other factors, but would rather talk about progress being made lately. The good news is that in recent times more stringent regulation are being formulated making it mandatory for organisations to have a specified number of HSE personnel based on the number of staffs in the organisation. The model of the Lagos state government by setting up the Lagos safety council will set the pace for the message of safety in the work place to soon become a nationwide Phenomenon in Nigeria.However legislation and regulations is just a harbinger in the process of imbibing the needed safety culture not just in the work place but in every aspect of ones endeavour. 

Ambrose Ssentongo's picture

People in my country as a developing one continuously involve themselves in occupational activities that're risky because they'll usually not perceive the hazardous nature of the work environment in which they may be operating. The Oil and Gas industry rates as one of the highest regarding exposure to occupational hazards, but this statement could probably be relevant only to those that have actually had an experience in this type of environment unlike many workers in my country. For a worker in a developing country where the safety culture is poor, this statement is easily over looked. The people being protected by the existing legislation don’t prioritise their safety at the work place. If a worker on a construction site doesn't in their mind perceive the risk of being hit by a brick falling from a height, then not having a safety helmet will be ok in his world, the scaffolding above him is quite sufficient to hold any materials thereon and walking under it bear headed doesn't present the situation as hazardous.

So, first there has to be a sensitisation of the people so they appreciate the importance of a good safety culture at the work place. Once they are aware what their priorities should be their safety and health (because without this they actually don't have earning capacity), then we can sensitise them about safety legislation and regulations which prior to that are otherwise mostly difficult to understand or irrelevant to them. I believe the level of democracy Europe may be enjoying is only helpful because the people are informed.




chukwuemeka uzukwu's picture

Workers everywhere in the world face
chemical, biological, physical, and psychosocial workplace hazards. In the
developing world, workers often face unregulated and unprotected exposure to
known hazards. Dramatic changes are occurring in the global labour force, as globalization
and population growth continue to shape the world economy. A major role in implementing
interventions to address occupational health falls to national governments
whose job it is to establish workplace rules and provide a system of information
dissemination and enforcement of regulations.

A large hurdle for most developing
countries is garnering enough resources to ensure compliance to educate health professionals
in occupational health, to attract adequately trained personnel to conduct
inspections, and to establish and monitor laboratories to support regulatory

In the developing country workplace,
how much employers know about industrial hygiene, safety and health practices, and
available controls varies. Insurance agencies, local safety groups, and trade
unions may promote workplace safety. However, on-site industrial hygiene
expertise is largely lacking in most parts of the developing world. Cost is
often a factor that influences whether or not a workplace adopts effective
interventions to address occupational hazards. Training of supervisors and workers,
although beneficial, may be difficult because of impediments such as
educational proficiency, language barriers, and the applicability of training materials
to local contexts. Broad agreement exists on the value of surveillance and
reporting, but even injury reports are largely nonexistent in developing
countries. Access to health care in the
developing world is critical both for work-related and other health issues. In
many areas, worksite services may be the only health care services available to
workers and their families.

In developing countries, especially at
large, remote industrial complexes and farms, workers (with or without
families) often live and work in the same place where the workplace hazards, including
noise, chemicals, and biohazards, are part of their nonwork environment.
Pesticides, for example, result in hundreds of thousands of poisoning cases a
year, many from the misuse of farm chemicals for nonwork purposes, such as the
appropriation of empty drums for transporting water or other household goods.
Children and family members should be apprised of all potential hazards, and
denied access to dangerous areas, but carrying out this recommendation is difficult
because many children themselves work. Capacity building of professional
expertise is critical to improving working conditions. Where capacity exists, the
expertise tends to be medical, rather than related to industrial hygiene,
engineering, or ergonomics.8 In most countries, ministries of health and labour
have jurisdiction over working conditions, but often suffer from too few experts
and inadequate coordination.

Key elements in improving worker
health and safety include:

• Regulatory and enforcement frameworks;

• Worker, employer, and health
professional education;

• Adequate surveillance and reporting
systems; and

• Dissemination and implementation of
best practices.

In conclusion,

As developing countries undergo rapid
economic development, industrialization, and feel the effects of globalization,
leaders need to draw on available occupational health system models to develop
their national occupational health systems. Government involvement is necessary
but not sufficient. International influence, assistance, and regulation
play a key role in encouraging
developing and industrializing nations to adopt appropriate laws and policies
to create
healthy workplaces

Igwe Veronica Ifenyinwa's picture

Most developing countries of the world don’t learn from history. Owing to the low rate of awareness, Education and enlightenment, there is little or no data collection of past occupational hazards to measure the extensity of risk, occupational hazards and safety defects that have occurred in work places in the past, with a view to formulating a strategic work plan for mitigating future risks. It should be recognized that tackling occupational hazards goes beyond worker-hazard interaction, valid essential for ensuring the success of a work place.

Thus, It time we called for a revised occupational research paradigm in developing countries mostly African countries that will focus less on the work places immediate hazards but collating data, research and empirical information as opposed to the medieval traditional approach of immediate-fixing. Only by so doing, can a sustainable occupational health standard can be achievable

Emmanuel Mbata's picture

The developed and developing countries may apply the same principle and or technique in addressing occupational health, but there can be a wide different in practise. For hazards evaluations in developing countries, more factors need to be considered.

 If the values for life and the environment is not appreciated then occupational hazards will not be seen as something serious, an average man in the developing country is concerned with his daily bread without considering the effect of his actions. 

One other issue that can also be traced back to the lack of value to human live is low capital investment. this often culminates in cutbacks on necessary expenses, especially on occupational or environmental health activities. thus the health, safety and welfare of workers are often time overlooked.

If the condition is improved, people will begin to value life, then safety will be fully embraced. 



Emmanuel Mbata's picture

The developed and developing countries may apply the same principle and or technique in addressing occupational health, but there can be a wide different in practise. For hazards evaluations in developing countries, more factors need to be considered.

 If the values for life and the environment is not appreciated then occupational hazards will not be seen as something serious, an average man in the developing country is concerned with his daily bread without considering the effect of his actions. 

One other issue that can also be traced back to the lack of value to human live is low capital investment. this often culminates in cutbacks on necessary expenses, especially on occupational or environmental health activities. thus the health, safety and welfare of workers are often time overlooked.

If the condition is improved, people will begin to value life, then safety will be fully embraced. 



ikenna_ekekwe's picture

This is a very interesting blog. I have read all the posts on this blog and (un)fortunately, Mr. Mbata is the only person who has hit the nail on the head.

Occupational hazard is any object or condition at work, with a potential to inflict danger or damage to persons, property or the environment. As clearly pointed out my Mr. Mbata, these dangers are the same, whether in developing or developed countries.

Safety is a thing of the mind and no amount of regulation of government intervention can save an employee who is completely careless at work. It all boils down to the low value placed on lives.

In developing countries, the economy is so poor and the average worker is always under pressure to deliver results or face the firing line. This situation i believe, is the driving force behind the high rate of incidents and I will give an example. Imagine a junior ataff in a developing country who has been asked by his supervisor (who is also under pressure from his superiors) to perform a task that is unsafe. Do you think this junior staff would refuse to do the work?

In summary, until the economy is improved, safety slogans like "ALARP" and "Zero-is-attainable" would be nothing but hypocrisy.


Ikenna Ekekwe 

Foivos Theofilopoulos's picture

(mostly focusing on Emmanuel, Ikenna and Kyle)

As my subject suggests, I am afraid that if we continue this discussion then we
will end up debating over socio-political factors. Which is not a bad thing per
se, but I will try to refrain from discussing the reasons why job-market
pressure affects working conditions and stresses employers.

I come from a country notorious for not following even basic precaution measures
(e.g. employers of gas stations smoking 3-4 meters from the pumps). I think
that culture plays a very important role in whether we are talking about developing
or developed countries. And not only workplace culture, education coming from primary
and secondary education. Not every aspect of occupational hazards can be dealt
with using ALARPs and safety consultants etc. Sometimes you have to start from

It is much more difficult to try and change the way of thinking in the current workforce around the world than try to mold the minds of children around subjects such as safety, hazards etc.

Uko Bassey's picture

This topic is unique and interesting because I have pondered on all the points raised, they all remain valid. However, while agreeing with Mr. Mbata, I have some exceptions with the comments of Mr Ikenna. Poverty and low or no value to live is a major factor in some unsafe acts but I believe that if the employers are adequately punished by regulators for any hazard/unsafe act or accident resulting from such no matter how trivial, most occupational hazards will be reduced. Lets us consider a company that has all the safety equipments with working at height policy, any staff that violates that faces serious query from the safety manager/coordinator or direct supervisor because it jeopardizes the company, his/her self and the public even in the event of no accident. Yes, safety is a thing of the mind and it should be in our sub consciousness. Therefore, more awareness should be done and people accept responsibilities irrespective of our levels. 

Uko Bassey's picture

In addition to what Foiv.Theo said, naturally nobody wants to be ruled or controlled and safety procedures/practices could pose major inconveniences and sometimes very stringent to follow. It should be emphasized that safety procedures are not debatable with the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ well stated because once the value of anything is not known, abuse is inevitable.

The regulators also have a fair share in the portion of the blames but what can they do when there is no adequate information concerning events? The reports of most incidences are always "window dressed" before making it public thereby hiding some vital information that could be beneficial in future. Not all hazards and accidents occur with explosive sounds to attract the public to it, in such cases the event will never be declared because nobody wants to tarnish their corporate image. This will take us back to data and access to information. I suggest there should be other control devices or mechanisms to retrieve information and check some job related hazards.

Adejugba Olusola's picture

I will attempt to comment on this topic without necessarily being bugged down by the socio-political or economic stratification of OECD vs developing countries.I am convinced the template for tackling occupational hazards is already available in developed countries.

A key factor in shaping safety in the workplace in developed countries is Legislation which emanated from them learning from accidents/incidents. Governments in developing countries need to set up regulatory and enforcement frameworks to ensure employer & individual responsibility for worker’s safety.

Foiv touched on a key element causing the high volume of incidents – the culture in those countries which is inherent from religious beliefs, poverty, value systems. However, an organisation has the capability to engender the type of culture it desires.The use of simple tools like Job Hazards Analysis or use of checklists can go a long way. Uko has already touched on two critical measures – crackdown on violations and consistent awareness will go a long way in reducing occupational hazards. From experience, strong safety leadership coupled with the above factors helped in reducing the challenge with the use of PPE .Adequate supervision and reporting systems and implementation of international standards and best practices can improve worker health & safety.[1]

I am of the opinion that companies can and do make a difference. Granted, the main reason some of these manufacturing outfits are set up in those countries in the first instance is due to low labour costs. However, accidents can lead to loss of lives and equipment damage which leads to loss of production and hence loss of revenue irrespective of business location in developed, developing or even a third world country. Organisations can find the will to make these safety improvements in developing countries if they weigh up the costs against downtime to production in the event of an incident.


1.      Disease Control Priorities Project. “Developing Countries can reduce Occupational Hazards”. 2007

Adejugba Olusola

Soseleye F. Ideriah's picture

In my opinion, the fundamental issue with safety in developing countries is the problem of a weak regulatory framework. Where there are no checks and balances, the system suffers. Yes, it is important to outline rules and regulations; however, this is arguably the easier part of creating a robust safety legislation system. It is imperative to have proper law enforcement strategies. 

Fines and other forms of punishment for failure to observe safety regulations should be strictly enforced. This is where I think developing nations have gone wrong. In many cases, corruption is the order of the day, and a lot can be swept under the carpet illegally. Sadly, this conversation cannot be separated from the social fundamentals upon which every society is built!

Developing nations must emulate the more developed world in creating stringent but achievable regulatory requirements. Strategies for enforcement of these rules should be implemented in a free, fair and consistent system.

natesanraj's picture

This episode that I am writing is from real time experience working for a Refinery shut down project in South East Asia. The Client was a renowned operator in this region and I was part of the Contractor Company performing the Shut down works for the live refinery. The safety measures were very stringent as Client was very intolerant to safety incidences. There were safety talk’s everyday given to workers who do the actual work in the field. Safety courses were being held in regular intervals. As per the safety rule any person working at the height of 1.8 meters or more is required to wear a safety harness and hook it on to a fixed object. There were safety supervisors patrolling the work sites regularly to check. This was diligently being followed by all Workers. Then I saw an intriguing site where a worker was working next to a open trench which was excavated for laying Cables. The person was standing next to the trench and was performing some maintenance work on a pipe valve. When I questioned him why he is not wearing a harness for safety, he argued with me that harness is only for protection while working at heights and not while standing on the ground. From a layman point of view his argument looked acceptable but definitely there is a potential danger due to the trench next to him. Standing on the ground level next to a open trench poses the same hazard as working at a height from the ground. Later I explained the situation to him and asked the Safety team to do a briefing for all the people working for the Project to explain the risk due to open trenches in the working area. So everyone is responsible for safety, the person who is actually performing the work may not be aware of the risk in it but as a responsible adult safety should be in everyone’s mind. I believe in addition to the procedures and systems, common sense is also an essential component of Safety.


Kareem Saheed Remi's picture

I have read through all
the posts in this blog, but very few mention is made about silent but dangerous
occupational hazards in office related jobs, i mean working with only table,
chair and computers in offices.

In developing countries,
there is no enough awareness or people pay less attention to the concept of
ergonomics. Bad ergonomics in term of work station (which comprises of computer
and office table and chair) and human interaction has been a major cause of repetitive
stress injuries (RSI) and other ergonomic related injuries. RSI and other
ergonomic related injuries are chronic in nature thereby negative impacts on
the body are are not detectable instantly.


Occupational therapy is a
field that is geared towards enlightenment and treatment of people that are
prone to occupational hazards. Which of course this field of study is yet to
gain ground in most of developing countries. And more so, most company consider
the cost of engaging occupational therapist as unnecessary and does not add
anything to the overall output of the company. 


Kareem R. Saheed

FELIXMAIYO's picture

Developing countries have a challenge in terms of occupational hazards and overcoming them is not an easy task. I am going to look at some of the causes of these occupational hazards and my reference will be Kenyan environment and this may apply to some other developing countries. Corruption is a key contributor to all these because it results in shady work being undertaking and not giving priority to safety. The government does plays any role enforcing the laws that have been put in place, if these laws are to be enforced safety will no longer be a problem.
The other reason is because of high levels of illiteracy this leads to the companies/industries taking advantage of the workers. The reason is because they do not know there rights. This can be connected with the levels of poverty in the developing countries which force people to look for work and not caring about their levels of safety or the risks they are being exposed in their working environments.developing countries have a big challenge in dealing with occupational hazards.


Siwei Kang's picture

I believe many factors led to high percentage of occupational hazards in developing countries. As my classmates mentioned in the previous posts, it is hard to overcome them in the short time. Here I wanna focus on three fundamental issues as following.

Firstly, safety awareness is weak in most developing countries due to poor education. People can not realize how to protect themselves. This problem not only happened at work, but also in the life. In some countries, it is common to see people are making calls by smart phones or even smoking in the gas station, which is very easy to ignite the volatile gas in the atmosphere. Secondly, poor regulatory framework are also the root of high occupational hazards. In developing countries, many industries are still in initial stages. They lack of enough funds and experience to build perfect or considerate safety systems. The main goal for them is to get the profit as much as possible, not keep their employees healthy. Finally, lack of supervision is frequently happened due to corruption, like FELIXMAIYO mentioned above. Even though there is effective framework to protect employees in these countries, it is not working. Employers can pay money to officials so that there is no fine and production shutdown in the wake of injuries or fatalities. 

My take is that these three roots can not be eliminated in the short term. But it is necessary to learn more from developed countries, not only their advanced technologies and experience, but also effective framework andsupervision approaches. Meanwhile, developing countries should also try to put more emphasis on their people, not economy.  

Yaw Akyampon Boakye-Ansah's picture

Much as I do not want to admit it, the situation is precarious and one that must be looked at by the international society because "what goes around will surely come around". The main reason for this strong stance is a situation I witnesssed while working, and although it may not be widespread, it surely is ingrained in the majority of my colleagues in Ghana.

To the African, the expatriate owned businesses are more stringent and demanding safety-wise and are willing to go the extra mile to do what is right while working with such  companies. Hardly will you see people working with safety gear when working with individual owned businesses on constrcution sites. But when they are employed by well-institutionalised groups, they duly conform to the standards set by the company. It may beg a question of availability rather than that of desire.

Under one circumstance which I referred to earlier, a certain company needed some welding to be done. Their major contracting company was not available as they were short of gas. Thus,  a local contractor was contracted to do the job. The welder was ready to weld without the proper safety gear which is the last resort to safety. What was grieving even moe was when he was STOPped from working because his apparatus had no fire arrester, he claimed the local safety officer was "too known"/ a pain.

What could be sadder than someone willing to help preserve your life and you calling the person a pain. He said he had been doing the job for too long not to know when there was an alarming situation arising. And that is the safety culture in some, if not al, developing countries. Safety procedures are barely adhered to and locals who try tp enforce them are seen as bothersome. I could go on and on.

One other alarming feature is the fear to report a safety case. When workers are likely injured from work, they fear to report as their taskmasters, most of who are expatriates, will sack themm because they worked and got injured, Worker rights are not protected and this culture has hindered the accurate recording of safety events while working with these multinational companies.

Incorrect coding and sheer disrespect to safety regulations are but some of the other challenges plaguing  the developing world. Motorists can ignore traffic signs because they are "in a hurry" or "above the law". Such practices are disheartening and very life threatening. It may well take re-education and stringent prescriptive laws to start with, to draw the minds of workers to safety and the occupational risks and hazards.

To safeguard world economy(maximising  investment returns) and worker safety, it will be imperative on the foreign owned businesses to ensure a safer working environment while breeding a culture of safety among its workers- who are very likely to be locals or expatriates from developing countries who are not privy to their knowledge and experiences.


Andreas Kokkinos's picture

In my opinion, occupational hazards do not only exist
in a large manner in developing countries alone, but also in well developed
industrialized countries with years of experience in occupational hazards and
health issues. Thus developed countries generated the appropriate principles
and measures for facing and eliminating such hazards to their minimum level. On
the other hand developing countries establish these principles for their own
use. The difference between the developed and developing countries is that the
first practices these principles very carefully and the second just initiated
to perform the principles without the required caution. [1]

Additionally, hazard evaluation in developing countries
requires more factor evaluation since many possible and different hazards are
being generated regarding to the environment of a workplace. Furthermore, investments
with low capital or cutbacks in vital expenses related to the occupational and
environmental activities are more likely to generate more occupational hazards.
Finally, the health and safety of the workers to be overlooked by the employers
and thus greater hazard risks are being generated. [1]

In order to face and eliminate the occupational
hazards in developing countries, the appropriate principles and safety
procedures must be followed and checked very often.


Andreas Kokkinos

MSc Oil and Gas Engineering

Ambrose Ssentongo's picture

I will agree with Brenda (a few posts above) in regards to the promising improvement of occupational health and safety in Uganda with the coming of the Oil and Gas industry! The various exploration and support service companies have come with a totally different and more stringent safety culture, they’re setting the bar high in regards to health and safety at the work place. An experience with the onshore activities going on in the exploration areas in the western part of Uganda will show you that indeed many local workers have come a long way to where they are(occupational health and safety awareness wise) and still need a lot of training to appreciate and adopt a good safety culture. These such related trainings have two major objectives; to improve situation awareness (being mindful of your surroundings and the various activities going on) and risk perception (recognising what the hazards are and the risks associated with them). The outcome of this should be that workers shall willingly follow safe procedures and even prompt their employer to improve safety where they feel they’re being put under risk by a certain condition. 

Ambrose Ssentongo

Patricia Fleitas's picture

Safety in the energy industry in developing countries is a very extensive topic with many factors to be analysed in detail. It also could be a sensible topic knowing that the majority of us came from those countries. However, I agree with some of the comments of my colleagues and I will add my own perspective.

There is one critical factor that has a huge weight in the matrix of analysis which is called HUMAN BEHAVIOUR. Behaviours and human factors are widely recognised as having an important effect on accident causation and accident prevention. During the past 10 year, large improvements in safety have been achieved through improved hardware, design, safety management systems and procedures; however despite the fact of all this improvements, always the human factor will be present. For example, Step Change in Safety document (Figure attached in my account) shows the correlation between time and accidents/incidents rates where at the beginning of the activities the accidents are attributed to mechanical or engineering design, then to the procedures and finitely to human factors. 

Furthermore, a research carried out in UK and pointed out in concluded that safety leadership and behaviour modification programmes were amongst the most important issues for improving safety in the UK oil and gas industry. Since the technology, system and structures are very similar, the different in performance is largely attributable to systematic differences in the behaviour of their employees.

Now, what is the different between developed and developing countries? We work following international rules for designing systems and follows similar procedures, so maybe this is not the key factor. Unfortunately, in developing countries we don’t have a clear culture of safety. For example, driving a car without seatbelt knowing that if a police stop us, we can persuade the law or if an industrial accident happened in the installations of the government, nobody comment about it or mitigate the root of the causes of the accident, in order to learn from it and used it as a case of safety study.

It is impossible that the government implement all the rules, but it is possible that every individual CHANGE THEIR OWN BEHAVIOUR. The moment when we cross the barrier of the individual ignorance, then we will know that we make mistakes, but we will be able to reduce the accidents by learning from our own behaviour.

Step Change in Safety. “Changing minds: A practical guide for behavioural change in the oil and gas industry”. Access on 13/11/12.

JIEFU's picture

Burden of Disease from Occupational
In the developing world, workers often face unregulated
and unprotected exposure to known hazards, such as
silica and asbestos. Decades ago, these minerals were the
source of problems commonly faced by millions of workers
in the developed world. However, the difference now is
that developing country workers are being exposed when
widespread knowledge is available about the risks and effective
preventive measures. 1
In some cases, nonoccupational health hazards increase the
risk for workers, as in the case of lung cancer-smoking can
exacerbate the effects of occupational exposure to asbestos.
Both of these dangerous products are still aggressively
marketed and exported by the developed world to developing
countries. In places like China, asbestos exposure abounds
and cigarette smoking is rising-producing a slow epidemic
of lung cancer and other diseases. Thus, a comprehensive
approach is necessary, rather than interventions that target a
single risk factor or behavior.
Important differences exist between developing and developed
country workforces:
• About 70 percent of developing countr ies'
economically active population works in agriculture.
• The informal workforce in developing countries
(self-employed, household-based unpaid labor, and
independent service workers, such as street vendors)
may contribute up to 60 percent of the gross domestic

• The migrant workforce, estimated at 120 million and
increasing worldwide, is often poorly protected from
occupational hazards and at great risk of contracting
silicosis, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS, which have been
linked to workplace, housing, and economic factors.

1 Kjellstrom, T., and L. Rosenstock. 1990. "The Role of
Occupational and Environmental Hazards in the Adult Health
Transition." World Health Statistics Quarterly 43: 188-96.
2 International Labour Organization. 2002a. Decent Work and
the Informal Economy. Report VI of the International Labour
Conference, 90th Session, Geneva: ILO.

JIEFU's picture

The principles of occupational health may be the same in the developed and developing countries. However, there can be a wide diversity in practice. The exposure to chemicals at the workplace in developing countries is usually of a different nature, and the level of exposure is generally of a higher magnitude. The leading occupational diseases in developing countries are also very different to those reported in industrialized nations. For hazard evaluation in developing countries, more factors need to be considered. Problems are usually more complicated as most workplaces are subjected to many factors which typify small-scale industries. Low capital investment often culminates in cutbacks on necessary expenses, especially on occupational or environmental health activities. Thus the health, safety, and welfare of the workers are usually overlooked. This situation helps only to promote greater risks to the workers. Furthermore, many workers in the developing countries suffer from poor nutrition, endemic diseases, and other debilitating conditions. For these reasons, it is possible that currently recommended occupational exposure limits could allow injury to workers in the developing nations. When carrying out health assessment, careful attention must be paid to cultural practices, genetic components, working conditions, and other predisposing factors.



Oluwasegun Onasanya's picture

Occupational hazard, is a working condition that can lead to illness or death{1}. The fact is that there is no job/occupation that does
not have a hazard attached to it, as small as typing on a computer to as operating a complex machine. Another fact, is that occupational
hazards abounds every where in the world, be in developed countries or developing countries.

Even when hazards and consequences associated to a particular occupation are identified, mitigations and controls may not be enough or not
even put in place. And this boils down to valuing the human life, as the lost of a human life cannot be quantified in a monetary value.
The government has a major role to play in enforcing regulations and policies on organisations. The management of organisations have the
same role to play in ensuring that their workers take the necessary safety precautions, that would enable them to be safe and minimise their
chances of been affected by the hazards they are faced with on the job.
The workers have their own role to play, by following to the letter all safety rules and instructions that are made available to them, as
some workers would not make use the PPE's made available to them except when there is a safety officer around.

To some management leadership, the belief that safety is too expensive abounds and they do not see so much reasons why so much budget should
be allocated to it. They fail to see the big picture, that a safe company is a wealthy company, as the resources they fail to allocate to the
safety of their workers would later be used to pay injured staffs or family of a dead worker(s) killed on the job.
Enforcing compliance on such organisations will help increase the awareness of occupational hazards among employees and reducing their consequences.



Hanifah N. Lubega's picture

Patricia, change of behavior is a very important point towards creating a safety culture but how do we do this?. Your point of seat-belt is very true. Sometimes you wonder why we have to care about the lives of people who simply dont want to care about their own lives? (I must have sounded rude there). Back at home I was responsible for ensuring the Health and safety of workers some of whom were exposed to high dust emissions, but even after several sensitisation talk and provision pf protective equipment, they would refuse to use them, saying they suffocate or are not used to it. How do you handle such? someone would say that you dicontinue them but what is the probability that the one who replaces them will protect them selves or that they will not put it on only when they see you? We need serious solutions in developing countries if we are to create a safety culture and this is going to take generations especially for my country.

We have been learning that most safety regulations are based on previous hazards/event occurences in order to implementation of the lessons learnt and hence avoid other occurencies but in my country, a school gets a fir outbreak and kills a good number of pupils (forexample the buddo junior sagga) and no major safety procedures are undertaken in other schools untill over 3 schools experience the same! This university is a perfect example. I was impressed that the lecture rooms have emergency exit points and fire preparedness drills. this has never happened in any university i know in my country. Even having fire exinguishers could be a miracle.

This brings me to the biggest question that never leave my head, Are we willing to pay for safety as developing countries??   How many companies apart from the International oil companies are willing to spend on safety gear, reducing egonormic factors, undertake periodic health checks, compensation in case of accidents and also ensure reliability of their equipments? Can we have an injury reporting and safety culture as Ugandans? Help me out on this fellow Ugandans because it hurts me to see how far down the ladder we are!!

Ike Precious C.'s picture

Occupational hazards in the workplace has more to do with the mental capacity of the person/employee or company/employer involved. It goes beyond adequate training or being a Developed or Developing country. I remember vividly, the lecture James Munro handled last week friday where he gave an example of how a Senior Electrician who has been passing all the sfety tests got involved in an usafe practice in his company, even with his superior present with him.

In as much as the developing countries have their peculiar environments where they tend to be on the firing line to deliver or lose their job, I think the awareness shouldn't just end with the company, it should go even to the Government level so they are aware of these "Bilateral Trades" they get involved in and its applications.

These developing countries hunger for these developed countries to come and invest in their economies; some times, these same companies, who know how things ought to be done but because of the costs attached to it, take advantage of the ignorance of these developing countries and overlook those issues which they will never get away with in their home.

Furthermore, I think acting on the information gotten is more important than collating them. I came across some comments stating that information be collated but Information collated and not interpreted or used accordingly is just a waste of effort.

For example, an organization may implement a safety policy such as "You See, You Act" (not referring to any company in particular) in which a hazard spotted is reported as soon as possible; a failure to act renders the whole purpose useless. 

Much more than enact these policies, these companies should ensure that these data are analyzed and used.

Lastly, I would like to say that some of these hazards, are not just external (working on an FPSO North Sea, Drilling an oil well in the coasts of Nigeria); this also involves the Designer in the office who may not be aware of the good sitting posture that applies when working with a Computer. This can lead to back ache and other things etc.

Companies and Employers must study the health conditions of their workers and know the pattern of recurring illnesses, if any.


In summary, these parameters should also be checked regularly:

1) Intra-individual variability with respect to the working environment.

2) Inter-individual differences with respect to the working environment. 

3) How the Individual/worker will be exposed to the hazards.

4) A fair knowledge of the individual, company or government's values. eg Cultural Values. 

5) Individual Characteristics

Thank you.

Precious C. Ike


Reference: Choon-Nam Ong, Jerry Jeyaratnam, David Koh "Factors Influencing The Assessment and Control of Occupational Hazards in Developing Countries" May, 17 1991, pp 112-123 

mohamed.elkiki's picture

I think most of you have covered the whole area of the topic but i wanted to just summaries all your points and add a few more. First, hazard can happen by individual or by a group. Individual can make hazard via certain act even if he trained well by means of culture certain habit (such as smoking, or something like example mentioned by James monroe in the lecture of case study). Also, hazard can happen from group and this group can be government, developed country act toward developing country, company rules,...etc. However, as mentioned from the topic of the discussion the main focus is on countries. In my opinion as hazard happen in developing countries, it also happen in developed countries and may be even more because developed countries may take all the precaution but still they cannot eliminate the risk but they just try to reduce it. However, in developing countries such as my country Egypt, they don't try to take the risk in making anything. They only want to follow any old system that make them live till now without trying to update of making any new system to reduce the risk more or even to innovate in certain area. The problem is in the way people think in developing countries and the fear from anything new that could make them loss money or cause death. i think the best solution can be via education system in developing countries that need to be more developed than any other thing in order to be in the same way of developed countries.

t01sik12's picture

Occupational hazards happen everywhere in the world, although it is more frequent and often more severe in developing countries. For example, not only are injuries more common, but poor sanitation and inadequate surgical care and public health infrastructure result in far poorer outcomes. In developing countries such as mine - Nigeria, where many sectors and industries are undeveloped, hazards happen virtually everyday but appropriate record keeping system is available which is also common in other developing countries. A body known as Nigerian institute of safety professional was set up to prevent industrial accident and hazards and promote occupational health and welfare in industrial establishment in Nigeria. However one can’t boost of their effectiveness because of how deep corruption has eaten deep into our system. All organization has a duty to  ensure that employees and any other person who may be affected by the companies undertaken remain safe at all times but this is not always the case in developing countries as most organizations are not ready to incur more cost in providing proper safety equipment and procedure for their workers. Some workers face unregulated and unprotected exposure to known hazards which is due to their ignorant about the risk.


The practice of making prevention a priority in different occupation is of primary importance in occupational practice. Here are some ways to tackle this problem .

1)      Legislation: Industrialist should be legally compelled to protect the workers and should be sanctioned if they fail to comply, harsher treatments should be meted out to them like revoking of licenses.



Another most promising chance of tackling occupational safety is in the phase of designing a process or building, although changes in basic design implies higher cost and an only be possible if short terms returns on investment are possible.

1)    Complete elimination of hazardous agent.



1)   Periodic health education of all the workers to provide them with adequate knowledge of all the hazards that can cause diseases associated with their occupation and preventive measures to adopt as well as the importance of keeping safety rules of their occupation. They should be well trained and  retrained periodical on how to use protective devices provided by the management in the language familiar to them.


Chukelu, I agree with Abdulazeez on the need to back up your data with a reference. The reason I so crave this is because in considering the most severe industrial hazards, one would go a good count before considering an occurrence in developing countries. This does not reflect an 80% more hazard prone system and cast greater doubt on your data.
Also, I take you back to our last HSE lecture where Mr. JS Munro using Deep water horizon and Texas City Refinery as concrete examples pointed out that most of the worst industrial hazards has been due to negligence by senior management and not inadequate legislation or even slack regulation. It would also interest you to know that reports on Piper Alpha also reached the same puzzling conclusion.
It is true that in developing countries regulation is apathetic and there is an absence of adequate legislation especially in the energy sector, but current and past events show that it is safer to work in developing nations as oppose to developed countries.

So Chukelu, Please back up your data with fact (reference).

I do not agree with the notion that workers in developing nations are 80% more prone to occupational hazards. I belief that such conclusion is subjective, hasty and does not encourage development in safety. This is because while it is easier to quantify inadequate legislation and less workers training one cannot comfortably do the same for negligent management and apathetic workers safety culture. Therefore a holistic view of the outcome of an endeavour where all factors that influence satety is considered is a better way to assess safety.

Yet let me recommend some ways of tackling occupational hazards in developing nations

1.   Well researched legislation: Most of the legislation used in industries in developing nations is adopted from developed nations. And because of the difference in such factors as politics, government, law and indeed human reasoning such legislation turn out to be ineffective. With knowledge of such lopholes companies operating in such environment might be tempted to reduce their consciousness of safety. For Example after the BP Macondo disaster that occurred on 20th April which released 53,000barrels of crude into American waters, BP paid a litigation of $4.5billion to the U.S government; this is not included a further $21billion it might pay under the clean water act [1]. 18months after Macondo, Shell bonga oil spill released 40,000 barrels of crude into Nigerian waters and when asked to pay a total fine of $5.5billion, shell claimed that there are no basis in Nigerian law for such a fine [2]. A well researched and reasoned legislation which took into consideration the uniqueness of Nigerian law would have averted such claims.

2.   Higher regards for human life: The cost of human life is a determining factor while considering the cost of safety and how much protection should be put in place and in effect what safety condition is considered to be ALARP.  For example, The EPA's and U.S. Office of Management and Budget put the cost of human life in the United States at $7m [3], [4]   While using productivity values the cost of human life in South Africa (a developing nation) amounted to $70,000 [5]. These significant differences in the cost of human life mean higher spending for safety (workers training, technology, etc) in one nation than the other and in essence safety standard.

3.   Better regulation: The regulatory system in most developing nations is marred with corruption, but this not the only reason for the slack regulation observed in these nations. Another reason is because the industries are way ahead of the regulators in terms of knowledge and technology and as a result it is difficult for the regulators to determine and checkmate unacceptable practices. It is therefore imperative to provide better training and education for regulators if occupational hazards are to be reduced in developing nations.






Keqin Chen's picture

As the largest offshore oil corporation in
China, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has always keep the “Implementation
of the "Occupational Disease Prevention Law of China” thoroughly” as its priority
in HSE (Health, Safety and Environment) related tasks.

During the cooperation with western oil
company in last 30 years, CNOOC has developed a mature Occupational Disease Preventing System to protect its most valuable
assets: all the employees and the key efforts are listed below:

Strictly implementation of the
"Occupational Disease Prevention Law of China"

Stick on the "Health
card" policy and have strict provisions of the medical examination and the
age limit for the offshore staff and temporary onboard

In special health promotion
programs, there is systematic planning and health management action, including “Promote
regional health services and establish integrated employee health system in
which Employee health records and management database can be recorded and
traced easily.”

Insists professional health
training for the offshore and onshore medical staff to improve the related
skills and staff only can keep the job when they are qualified with professional
medical requirements.


The Efforts Done by CNOOC to Prevent
Occupational Disease has always been improved and will not be loosened in the

Keqin Chen

Msc of Oil and Gas Engineering


YAKUBU ABUBAKAR 51126107's picture

I want to say that there is a lot of double standard in the
application of occupational hazard law more especially in the developing
countries, Africa as a case study. Occupational hazard is concern on the
protecting the employees safety, health and welfare to the highest standard possible.

Most of the major industries in Africa are own by the west
and the Americans and they in a very dangerous and hazardous sector mainly
mining, oil and gas exploration and petrochemical etc.

The working environment people are subjected to is
unacceptable in other word human slavery in contrast to what is obtained in the
developed countries but still they get away with it because that is Africa
where people don’t have the right to complain and demand for better and safer
working conditions.

The industrial courts are subdued and sabotage by the big
multinational corporations to ensure that they are not prosecuted for corporate
man slaughter and other crimes against humanity. This kind of behaviour by the
multinationals would carry own unless there is a strong international body of
health and safety at work that stand and  depend the right of workers in the mines and
other dangerous industries all around Africa and the world at large.

Yet the same multinational company would operate with different
safety policy in Europe and America why the double standard every year thousands
of people die and many sustain life treating injuries due to bad occupational
safety policy.




Ekaterina Pavlichenko's picture

Yakubu, I’ve thought long and hard about your submission above. Coming from Russia I was initially going to comment on the situation within my own country, but felt that first I would wish to address some of the statements you’ve made. Not to repeat them here, but surely you must be thankful that if this is the case as you outline then it was far preferable than had these industries been run by those that supported, shall we say, alternative ideologies as being supported by other countries during the Cold War. While the situation may not have been ideal at least there was a basic requirement from these Western companies to offer a certain albeit minimal standard of HSE protection. Today, the press is full of stories that Africa is being bought and paid for by China, I wonder how benevolent these new ‘owners’ of Africa will be to their subjects. We are told that Luanda has been rebuilt, but no local people can afford the live in these new accommodation centers, that labour is being imported from China to the detriment of the local workforce and that this situation is not just happening in Angola, but in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Congo and Tanzania too, while in South Africa you have developing a strong takeover of western businesses by companies from the Middle East and this development is not limited within Africa to South Africa. Yes indeed the situation in Africa will be interesting to follow in the coming years and I hope and pray that in some way the people from Africa will be able to empower themselves to provide security and stability, healthcare and a clear vision for the future that offers and includes a better world for all.

For Africa the situation is more complex and requires bodies such as the United Nations and the World Health Organisation to be prepared to step in and enforce basic human rights, which going by Yakubu’s comments have in the past been sadly lacking.

I sympathise with Yakubu, because in Russia we too work a two tier system, with an expatriate workforce that is far better treated than those employed locally. However, this must be looked on positively and seeing the opportunities that others enjoy from abroad is a spur that motivates and instills within the individual the desire to work hard and overcome the constrainst others would wish to impose on an indigenous society.

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. —Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 25, para. 1)

But I do want to clearly say that the Western companies that work within Russia provide very high standards of HSE and I believe that Russian owned companies use this example as their measuring stick in measuring the minimum requirements that they must offer in regards to HSE. To tackle the requirements in developing countries I think that these developing countries only need to look to the Western World. This is the benchmark, the standard to emulate and the way forward!

Brenda Amanda's picture

Having read most of the views
expressed on this blog, my conclusion is that it all comes down to having two
completely different scales and definitions of ‘Reasonably practicable’.

ALARP (developed country): Measures
are taken to ensure risk levels are brought to as low as reasonably
practicable. Meaning a company will spend money to bring risk levels down until
it can be proven that the cost of risk reduction is disproportionally high
compared with the benefits gained.

ALARP (developing country):
Measures will only be taken to reduce minimal risks and only to the extent that
the company does not have to spend more than the bare minimum to reduce risk
levels. The analogy that comes to mind is the English saying ‘a stitch in time
saves nine’. Most companies will ignore the tear until the ‘cloth’ is hanging
by a thread before they begin to even think about finding a solution, let alone
spending money to solve it to ’reasonably practicable’ levels.

It’s not an all-gloomy picture.
Some sector regulators do make an effort and as international companies
continue to move to developing countries in search of investment opportunities,
my opinion is that we shall learn better practices and value safety to the
level that the international companies do. Baby steps yet, but we’ll get there.

Sineenat Kruennumjai's picture

Topic 29: Tackling Occupational Hazards in Developing Countries

 In developing country, people die from work related accidents are five to six time of the workers die in industrialized countries. There are many ways to mitigate this among. First of all, government and social partners should cooperate to evaluate the awareness of the dimensions the cause and the consequences of the risks which can occur from work. After that, using such research to create the knowledge of safety and health protection, and then publish to all industries and all workers, who are working in hazardous areas. And government should use such research to develop the legislation standards of practice for the protection workers in hazardous condition. More than that, the basic way to mitigate hazard or work related accidents is developing the training programmes for the workers who are working in hazardous areas. Such training program should be organized by the team who has an extensive experience related to working in hazardous areas.              

Posted By
Sineenat Kruennumjai
ID  51126536

Tianchi You's picture

Taking the occupational hazards in developing countries into consideration, I'd like to share my personal opinion in my country-China.

  • Even though the economy has increased fast and significantly, the majority of people are lack of the awareness about safety and health
  • The competition among Chinese workers is intense,especially those low-technology occupations
  • Developed countries normally build these industries in China because of the cheap labour force, but those workers work quite a long time with a low income
  • The huge population determines that labour force is not a problem except those high-technology occupations
  • Compared with developed countries, the government is lack of the awareness of human rights,even though they are improved but it takes a long time
  • It takes a lot of money to invest in the health and safety management, not every company has the ability to improve it into a higher standard

These ideas may result in a high-risk hazards in CHINA, I wish that one day the situation will be better


Tianchi You


Oil&gas engineering

William J. Wilson's picture

A point well raised Tianchi You, you mentioned that it takes a lot of money to invest in health and safety management and that not all businesses can afford to reach the standard.  This made me think: if it is large companies from developed countries setting up industries in China (for example) then they should apply the same Heath and safety standards at home and aboard.  They surely have the capital to do so, but maybe not the will or legislative requirements.  From my experience in the British Armed Forces I know that when operating from abroad we conduct all activities in accordance with British Law and also the host nations law whichever is the higher standard (this tends to be the EU or UK standard)!  The health and safety laws should be treated no differently.  This is not legally enforced but at least the OHSAS18001 challenges this issue and attempts to prevent the exploitation of larger companies from developed nations using developing nations as a cheap source of labour without considering the H&S and exposing those employees to high levels of risk.

William Wilson
MSc Subsea Engineering

Dear all,

First, what is the underlying cause of such imbalanced occupational hazard imposed unto developing countries compares to developed countries? And how to tackle such imbalanced.

The causes of imbalanced are due to the following factor:

  1. The first significance factor should be observed through the distribution of workforce. In is noted that the distribution of workforce is according to economy sector [1]. Where, in developing country like China and India etc [2], agriculture is the predominant economy sector. Whereas, in developing country, the major sector is in term of industrial economy sector.
  2. Exposure to both traditional and emerging hazards, that may or may not be regulated and unprotected, just as those same hazards that were faced by the developed country long time ago [1].

Thus, in order to mitigate such causes, the following steps by regulatory bodies and industries :

  1. Intervention from international body such WHO, national such as HSE department [1]
  2. Increase the funding towards trainings and funding to reduce the impact of fail training due to language barrier, literacy and local appropriateness. [1]
  3. Social and attitude paradigm shift [3]
  4. Develop country - Developing industrial lesson learn sharing. [3]

In conclusion, the economic factor is the contributors factor towards difference between occupational hazards in developing countries and developed countries. Securing funding from training is crucial in order to alleviate occupational safety in developing countries.

On the other hand, I would also agreed with Menelaos in putting capitalism as also driven factor to such condition. But I would like to relate it to economic factor, many multinational manufacturer like NIKE, Adidas etc have production operation in developing or thrid world countries to maximize profit. I do think, in order to maximize profit, only small amount of funding is spend in proper training.


Anas Abd Rahman



1. Rosenstock, L., Cullen, M., and Fingerhut, M. (2006). “Occupational Health.” In Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries, 2nd ed. D. T. Jamison, J. G. Breman, A. R. Measham, G. Alleyne, M. Claeson, D. B. Evans, P. Jha, A. Mills, and P. Musgrove,1127-1145. New York: Oxford University Press.

2. Iman A. Nuwayhid (2004) Occupational Health Research in Developing Countries: A Partner for Social Justice. American Journal of Public Health. Pg 1916-1921  Available from:

[Accessed on 30 November 2012]


1. Rosenstock, L., Cullen, M., and Fingerhut, M. (2006). “Occupational Health.” In Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries, 2nd ed. D. T. Jamison, J. G. Breman, A. R. Measham, G. Alleyne, M. Claeson, D. B. Evans, P. Jha, A. Mills, and P. Musgrove,1127-1145. New York: Oxford University Press.


3. Iman A. Nuwayhid (2004) Occupational Health Research in Developing Countries: A Partner for Social Justice. American Journal of Public Health. Pg 1916-1921
Available from:
[Accessed on 30 November 2012]

victor.adukwu's picture

Dr. Tan, I completely agree with you that the so call "Democracy" is a very important factor for tackling occupational hazard in developing countries. In developing countries, negligence and corruption is highly placed in the work environment and safety can be compromised without any penalty given to the parties involved because they always find their way through the government, even if there are some forms of minimum regulation or standard that guides the employee and employer. For instance, ergonomics is very important in the work environment and the minimum requirement for an employee safety is usually stated in safety regulation procedures in most developing countries but are neglected by either the government official or the employer in that particular industry because they are very sure no one will say a word and even if they are sued, they will find their way out through corrupt judges.
In developed countries, the revise is the case, because the party or person involved for negligence of safety in the work place will be prosecuted and if found guilty will be penalized according to health and safety regulation of work place activities

The definition of occupational hazard is an illness or injury endangerment, hazard, jeopardy, peril or risk that is inherent in a particular work requirement or environment.  The occurrence of occupational hazard is closely related to social productivity level and national economy development. In developing countries, driven by economic benefits, some enterprises don’t follow the relevant regulations which aim at occupational hazard prevention and lack corresponding investment for occupational health. In particular, in some small companies, the employees will be fired once they are found having occupational illness. Many workers died because they didn’t get timely treatment. So in the first place, the management of occupational hazard should focus on preventing laborers from contacting various hazard causes and improvement of operation environment. The agent for occupational hazard service shall propose proper and effective measures for occupational hazard prevention except the monitoring and evaluation of working surroundings.

farman oladi's picture

Studies show that fatal accidents risks are 10 to 20 times higher in the developing countries. Also agricultural and mechanization has now increased the occupational hazards in these countries. Psychological risk factor also plays a major role as a health hazard to employees. Economical insecurity together with poverty has a great effect on job conditions together with the voices not to be heard. Therefore developing countries have a hunger and the need for disciplinary expertise to reduce these fatal accidents and hazards.

Standards development, legislation, safety at work policy requires improvement in order to tackle these issues in developing countries. However any policy reform requires increased research in these countries, which will provide the road and ground for any future basic changes.  Occupational Health / Safety in Developing Countries  

sreehariprabhu's picture

I agree with the point what Mbata made. Even if the safety practices are same in both developed and developing countries, the developing countries doent follow them. In the developing contries, the organizations doesnt have a good safety culture. This is because, they do not give much value to human life. What they look for is to complete the work as fast as possible and no matter how hazardous the conditions are. The people in developing contries do this to earn for their daily bread. They have no value for their opinions and even if they express, the organisations never count them. They are also made to work under extreme conditions and overtime with less pay.

It is high time that the people should follow the importance of safety culture. Even if there are authorities to make sure about the safety culture, they are not efficient enough and they dont give any importance for it. This practice must be changed and a rule should be brought that every industry holds a record for their safety practices and the injuries or fatalities happening. This record must be verified every year. If this is strictly made to follow, there will be a huge difference in the accidents happening in the developing countries.

Sreehari Ramachandra Prabhu

Joan.C.Isichei's picture

I’m not in total agreement with Yakubu. I’d like to clarify this by saying that the current issue of occupational hazard in Africa isn’t necessarily the fault of the multinationals. Making such a statement contributes to the stereotypical image of multinationals as the big bad wolf. For instance, I had the opportunity of carrying out a one year internship in one of the oil multinationals in Nigeria and I must say that their health and safety programme was commendable. They set days aside to train every staff on safety issues. Every month, each and every staff member, is encouraged to attend the free health check provided by the company. I assumed this was only done in this particular company. Not until I had the opportunity to exchange internship experiences with friends did I find that this happens to be case in other multinationals across the country. 

In addition, many African countries, especially non-oil producing countries, have about 70%[1] of their population in Government employment, therefore, the onus of occupational health and safety implementations also rests on Africa’s government. However-here is where I agree with Yakubu-  i believe the prevalence of corruption in much of Africa's government, not just multinationals, has prevented the proper implementation of occupational health and safety standards/programmes on the continent.




occupational hazard is a working condition that workers are subjected to which leads to unbearable working conditions such as diseases, illness and even the worst death. in some organisations and developed country, such jobs attracts more income and regulated health standard because of the risk associated. Occupational hazards are majorly categorised in four majorly affected area which are chemical,biological, physical and psychological.

many organisations from the developed countries moved there operation into a developing country because of cheap and availability of labour, poor standard of industrial regulations, and poor economic standard,  without considering the standard of payment that is equal and relevant to what is obtainable in the developed country and the health standard of workers. 

to tackle such issues, companies relocating to a developing countries should introduce corporate social responsibilities. Also, inter- governmental communication should be encouraged to understand what developing countries are transfering inform of technology that can impose health hazard on their citizens.  






SanjayVyas's picture

There has been a useful discussion on this topic and following are my thoughts on what should be the key requirements to tackle occupational hazards in developing countries; 

Commitment from Top management

Policies, KPI, Periodic reviews for control of accidents/incidents
from occupational hazards

Effective enforcement of HSE regulations

Development of Occupational Hazard Management
Plan right from Concept /Design phase – e.g. Occupational Health Risk
Assessment, Standard Operating Procedure with instructions to prevent OH, Periodic
OH Monitoring and Hearing Conservation Plan, etc.

Availability of resource and skills to execute
and monitor measures required to prevent and manage the occupational hazards and
provide basic PPE’s.

Training and awareness on occupational hazards

Tougher economic conditions force businesses to sometimes ignore
key HSE requirement and therefore commitment from top management is essential
to ensure correct implementation basic HSE requirements. Lack of technology,
skills and resources limit both HSE regulator and operator control and monitor
occupation hazards. Conditions in the developing world are changing and efforts
are made at National, Industry/ Business and NGO levels to improve the
conditions of working society.'s picture

In developing countries, the technology and engineering is not so mature. In other words, to explore and exploit oil and gas may cause serious lose. Thus, how to decrease the occupational hazards rate is an urgent issue for the companies in developing countries. The useful way to tackling is learning from the companies in developed countries. It is so efficient that will spent less time and result in more benefits. Some countries sent their engineers and managers abroad to learn the advanced technologies and knowledge in order to use it for their own countries. This approach should be promoted to all the developing countries.The other way is to invest more money to set up new system and put it into practise. This is a long way, but during this process, they will learn how to address the hazard problems and find a way suitable for their own countries.

Deinyefa S. Ebikeme's picture

Occupational Hazards are a compact issue in both developing and developed countries having read through comments made on this blog. The degree of occupational hazards varies for both developing and developed countries. This depends on several factors such as level of industrialization, government legislation (definition of ALARP), economy of the nation etc.

Interesting points had been made by my colleagues but in addition to the comments made by Benda, Emmanuel, Ikenna, Ike and Henry Tan. In my own opinion, I will say, good government policy, implementation and effective feed-back system are the major players in fighting occupational hazards in various organisations.

In developing countries, democracy has been re-defined in my own term as the government of the minority voted into power by the majority in implement policy that will favour their own selfish interest without concerning the majority. 

For instant, in Nigeria the implementation of Nigeria Local Content Act sounds like a good idea on paper but the real motives are just behind it. This has led to formation of immature and inexperienced companies by those in power to enslaving and endangering the lives of workers because there isn't any strong consequent attached for the value of human life. 

In conclusion, government check and balance agencies should live up to their responsibilities to check-mate and bring to book illegal and corrupted organisations.    

Deinyefa Stephen Ebikeme IBIYF

Liu Yishan's picture

As we known, China's population is the largest in the world, in the meantime, the number of people exposed to occupational hazards and the number of occupational disease cases was found to be quite huge. The trend of more and more small and medium size hazards is serious in China. The transfer of occupational hazards and the mobility of migrant workers have made the work of occupational prevention and treatment more difficult. It is hard to evaluate the health effects in the migrant workers. In addition, many enterprises did not reflect the actual situation of occupational hazards. These made the occupational health system have not been fully established yet in China. A series of steps have been taken to reduce occupational diseases in China. It is necessary to strengthen the supervision and management of workers, especially in some representative industries with high risks, such as oil and gas industry. In the future, China can have efficient prevention and control of occupational health.

Reference: Xueyan, Zhang etc. The current status of occupational health in China, Environment Health Prevention Medicine, 2010

t01sik12's picture

Occupational hazards happen everywhere in the world, although it is more frequent and often more severe in developing countries. For example, not only are injuries more common, but poor sanitation and inadequate surgical care and public health infrastructure result in far poorer outcomes. In developing countries such as mine - Nigeria, where many sectors and industries are undeveloped, hazards happen virtually every day but appropriate record keeping system is available which is also common in other developing countries. A body known as Nigerian institute of safety professional was set up to prevent industrial accident and hazards and promote occupational health and welfare in industrial establishment in Nigeria. However one can’t boost of their effectiveness because of how deep corruption has eaten deep into our system. All organization has a duty to  ensure that employees and any other person who may be affected by the companies undertaken remain safe at all times but this is not always the case in developing countries as most organizations are not ready to incur more cost in providing proper safety equipment and procedure for their workers. Some workers face unregulated and unprotected exposure to known hazards which is due to their ignorant about the risk. The practice of making prevention a priority in different occupation is of primary importance in occupational practice. Here is one very important way to tackle this problem.  Legislation: Industrialist should be legally compelled to protect the workers and should be sanctioned if they fail to comply, harsher treatments should be meted out to them like revoking of licenses.Another most promising chance of tackling occupational safety is in the phase of designing a process or building, although changes in basic design implies higher cost and can only be possible if short terms returns on investment are possible.


Samuel kanu

Workers in developing countries bear more than 80% of the occupational injuries since these countries take less measures to ensure the occupational safety and health. I believe the difference between approaches  taken by developing and developed countries to ensure safety, is associated to economic factors.

Due to week economic situation, developing countries cannot afford expensive safety measures and they use cheaper safety equipments which cannot meet the safety standards. It also includes worker's training which rarely takes place in developing countries. Also,these countries cannot buy or produce standard infrastructures for industry which are more unlikely to pose risk. I think week regulations regarding safety is the outcome of economy constraints as well.  However, these inflicting outcomes are borne by workers in developing countries which is not fare and as Dr. Tan cited: " The difference in Europe is that the common man has a voice and is listened to", I realize it when I heard that a company's safety regulations compliance differ from region to region. It means that for example BP has different safety measures in UK and middle east!

Finally, I reckon that the first step for developing countries to ensure "occupational safety and health" is training workers in work place as well as educating more safety engineers at universities.





amir masoud bayat's picture

I believe that physical, biological, psychosocial and chemical work place hazards can take place everywhere but most significantly in the developing countries which is more than 80 percent of the global occupational injury and disease. Some diseases such as Lead poisoning which were largely in developed countries remain as a major occupational hazard in the developing countries.

One major problem that should be taken into consideration is lack of Resources and Expertise in the third world countries. An important role to tackle occupational hazards falls to the government of developing countries whose job it is to provide work place rules and a system to spread information and enforcement of rules. Also, a big obstacle for developing countries is lacking adequate resources to educate safety professionals in occupational hazards and attract enough trained member to establish laboratory in order to support regulatory efforts and conduct examination.


Ahmed_Abdelkhalek's picture

I strongly believe that there is not much of a gap between developed and developing countries with regards to legislation. When preparing safety legislations most developing countries copy of those of the developed ones.
However the gap exists in the implementation of the law and this is the root cause for the high occupational hazard in developing.
In my opinion laws are not enforced mainly for two reasons:
1-High Level of Corruption
2-Lack of Competency

High Level of Corruption
Officials get paid to disregard violations.
Officials not interested in exerting any effort towards tackling the occupational health issues.

Lack of Competency
Officials do not know how to apply the “copied” legislation as they were not trained for the job.
Workers lack minimum awareness of hazards and proper training to do their jobs.

Ultimately to effectively tackle the problem developing countries need to maximize their efforts to minimize corruption. Once corruption is sized down to its acceptable limits, proper plans will be developed and implemented to Increase competency and enforce the laws.

Mohamed H. Metwally's picture


It is the
responsibility of governments to raise the awareness of safety amongst workers
so that even the ones in their privately owned workshops comply with safety
rules when no one is watching them.

In Egypt, take for example the
workers in marble workshops, can you imagine that no one is wearing any kind of
mask?!!! Never!!!

The average or the uneducated
worker is like a kid...some rules are never understood until someone explains
it to him.

So the governments have to take
their responsibility to educate people avoiding spending much money on heath care


Menelaos has made a simple but strong point. Occupational hazards in the work place especially in developed countries is a problem that cannot be fixed simply by passing legislations, being from a third world country I can understand why. Poor regulation of the workforce environment coupled with corruption and a compromised judiciary system has made it difficult to even proffer solutions to the problem. Substandard goods and machinery will continue to be bought not only because there aren't enough funds to purchase new machinery, but simply because a certain official benefits from the excess of what's left from an overpriced budget. This does not mean it's impossible to resolve the issue but it is a problem that individuals at every level of any organization need to understand. We first have to learn to value the lives and property of each person and accountability has to be enforced. The law makers can pass laws but if the people do not abide by them and the judiciary fails to implement punitive measures to perpetrators irrespective of financial or political standing then it is going to be another vicious cycle to be added to the problems facing developing and under developed nations.

Kuma Mede


I largely agree with views expressed by Okechukwu on the need to academically drive an intervention to help tackle the level of occupational hazards in developing countries. 


Jaya (2002) has presented an extensive case study of the occupational hazard situation in a company in Malaysia, identifying political, business environment and organizational issues as contributing factors. However, an examination of the work by Seabrook (2005) clamouring for international trends in workplace safety and health provides a good and controllable platform to initiate a change. The global reach of most operation and exploration companies coupled with the fact that a lot of developing countries have their energy operations run mainly by these firms, can facilitate an organizational orientation that mandates evenness in global operation policies and procedures. Having base in countries with established safety legislation like the UK, Norway, Brazil and USA; the operators should strive to provide a universal grounding of all employees on their safety standards. This also would guarantee safe work practices and hence reduce the exposure of personnel to occupational hazards (Cranford 2009). 


This would be more effective where the degree of safe operation of companies in developing countries is considered during evaluation of the energy firms by regulators in more legislation established countries.  




Curtis Cranford, 2009. “Facilitating a Change in GSE Culture: How to understand an organizations Culture and Affect Change”. Society of Petroleum Engineers TX, USA. 2009. 


Katty A. Seabrook; 2005. “International Trends in Workplace Safety and Health”.ASSE Conference Paper. UK 2005. 


M. S. Jaya, 2002. “Challenges in Developing Occupational Health Services in an Oil and Gas Company in Malaysia”. Society of Petroleum Engineers TX, USA. 2002.

Ernest Appiah's picture

Most developing countries do not have strong instituitions in place to enforce the rules and regulations on occupational health hazards. Most governments do not allocate enough funds or resources for the monitoring and controlling of industrial risks and hazards. There are also currupt agencies and officials taking  bribes and turning a blind eye to a potential risk. It is estimated that over 1.1 million people dies year from work related injuries. 

One way of tackling this problem is by putting in place measures to do away with poor working conditions and also being serious about what these countries perceive as minor problems like the treatment of stress.

Akuromawaye Apiambo's picture


Occupational hazard defined as a
condition that can lead to illness or death. Often, people in jobs
which pose a 
high level of risk are paid more than
similar but 
less risky jobs to
compensate for the danger involved.

One of the major hazards in the oil and gas industry is noise
which often leads to loss of hearing or hearing defects. In the developing
world regular check-up is not done, having this believe that it’s the sick that’s
the hospital is meant for and as such when recommendation are made for audiometric
checks, they are neglected by people in concern.  Tackling this issues are major concern for the
developing countries.




Apiambo, Akuro


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