Occupational health and safety of employees in companies is an issue that is especially important under the current pandemic circumstances caused by Covid-19. Different economic sectors in Nicaragua were affected by the emergence of the virus in the country, mainly those related to services, commerce, and tourism.
Nicaraguan occupational health and safety legislation establishes a series of obligations and recommendations that the employer must take into consideration to preserve hygiene in the workplace, protect employee health and avoid possible penalties that could be imposed by the Labor Ministry (MITRAB by acronym).
Taking the above into consideration, Occupational Health and Safety General Law, Law No. 618 published in La Gaceta, Diario Oficial No. 133 of July 13, 2007, and its regulations, Decree No. 96-2007 published in La Gaceta, Diario Oficial No. 196 of October 12, 2007, includes a minimum of provisions that government, employers and employees must develop at workplaces, through promotion, intervention, monitoring and setting up actions to protect employees during the performance of their tasks.
One of the main obligations that an employer must fulfill under the aforementioned law and regulations, is to adopt the necessary and appropriate preventive measures to guarantee hygiene and safety of employees in all work-related aspects. The employer must also incorporate an occupational health and safety commission at the workplace, comprised of an equal number of workers and employer representatives.
Under the amendment to the Ministerial Resolution for Occupational Health and Safety Mixed Commissions in Companies published in La Gaceta, Diario Oficial No. 29, of February 9, 2007, the occupational health and safety mixed commission is a joint body of participation in the activities of protection and prevention of risks in the workplace promoted by the on-site management through its health and safety specialist. The mixed commission must be registered with the Ministry of Labor and must elaborate internal operating regulations and an annual work plan. This last document must also be filed with MITRAB authorities.
The main activities that the mixed commission can undertake are to evaluate, identify and investigate professional risks within the company; monitor compliance control of the provisions adopted in occupational risk prevention; propose employer preventive measures for improving levels of protection, and prevention of occupational risks.
An occupational health and safety mixed commission is an important tool available to employers that will provide, with the support of company employees, technical implementation of biosecurity measures within the company. The use of these measures by employees could bring implicit benefits such as cost reduction in implementing the measures and guaranteeing hygienic working conditions, aimed at avoiding the spread of COVID-19.