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Challenges in incorporating safety and health into national plans: Between policy and practice in Lebanon. Manal Azzi, PhD SafeWork. Implementing Occupational Safety and Health Standards Globally International ILO Conference Düsseldorf, Germany 3-6 November 2009. OUTLINE. Background:

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Challenges in incorporating safety and health into national plans:Between policy and practice in Lebanon

Manal Azzi, PhD


Implementing Occupational Safety and Health Standards Globally

International ILO Conference

Düsseldorf, Germany

3-6 November 2009

  • Background:
    • Occupational safety and health (OSH)
    • Lebanon
  • Objectives
  • Methods
  • Sampling
  • Tool design
  • Data Collection
  • Results
  • How effective is the law?
  • How effective is a national policy on OSH? What do managers think of OSH?
  • Is there a gap between policy and practice in Lebanon?
  • What are the dynamics that drive a manager to ensure a safe and healthy workplace?
  • Occupational Safety and Health (OSH)
    • The Scope of the Problem
  • Lebanon
    • Socioeconomic context
    • OSH in Lebanon
    • Stakeholders
    • Legislation
    • Knowledge Attitude and Practice
  • Comparison internationally
  • To assess the dynamics affecting the implementation of safety measures at the workplace
    • role of knowledge, attitude and behaviour of employers in this regard.
  • To identify shortcomings in translating the policies to implementation in the OSH domain in Lebanon
  • To give recommendations that would assist policymakers and improve OSH in Lebanon.
research question
Research Question
  • What factors at the enterprise level can play a role in either facilitating or impeding adherence to safety measures?
    • How are employer knowledge and attitude driving occupational safety and health practice?
    • Why are managers motivated or uninspired to implement health and safety legislation?
    • As part of the enterprise level OSH practice, to what extent are the articles pertaining to the National Decree 11802 and the ILO convention 155 being implemented at the level of enterprises?
  • Cross-sectional study was conducted on the employers from 70 work organizations.
  • Randomly selected from a list of 234 member industries of the ALI, covering the top 5 largest industrial sectors in Lebanon: minerals, metals, chemical products, paper and cardboard, and food products.
  • A mixed methods approach
  • Each employer was visited once
    • asked to complete an interview using a close-ended questionnaire.
    • An in-depth qualitative interview was used to probe into the questionnaire responses for 32 employers (data saturation point). Notes were taken during each interview, then translated and transcribed.
    • The analysis of the quanti. data generated the main points of interest and the quali. analysis allowed the generation of new themes
questionnaire design
Questionnaire Design
  • Structured questionnaire
    • Key informant interviews, literature, Lebanese National OSH Decree 11802 and the ILO OSH convention 155.
  • Questionnaire covered Socio-demographics, employer’s knowledge and awareness of OSH legislations, employer’s attitude towards OSH , & employer's practices relating to: physical health, psychosocial health, communication of OSH policies within the workplace, exposure to occupational hazards, training, accident documentation and notification etc.
  • The results were analyzed using descriptive statistics including means and standard deviations for continuous variables and frequency distributions for categorical variables.

Key Informants



of Lebanese Industrialists

General Federation

for Lebanese Workers

Ministry of Labour:

labour Inspector

in depth interview scope
In-depth interview scope

A thematic analysis of the in-depth interviews was conducted resulting

in higher order themes


ISO certificates

Manufacturing procedure neatly displayed


Where signs exist, they are not in a language workers can understand, or are not pertinent where they are placed


Dangerous work with no PPE and no safeguards

Vs. Neat electrical boxes and storage


Steep entrance

of a printing industry

Confined spaces

Unhealthy and unsafe storage sites


Small toilet space, bad hygienic conditions & used also as locker Vs.

Good Locker space for workers


Workplace Policy on OSH

What enterprises used as guidelines to set their workplace OSH polices


Employer’s attitude towards occupational safety and health

OSH as a priority in spite of high ignorance on OSH


Practices relating to safety and health: Communication of OSH policies

within the workplace

Practices relating to safety and health: Communication of OSH policies within the workplace

Communication and training for workers on OSH


1st Order Theme

Reasons managers consider OSH as a priority

- Increase productivity

- Give/ get something in return

- Decrease absenteeism

- Worker as a valuable human resource

- More sales

- Give and take

- Ethical reasons

- Respect to human being

- We are family

- Responsibility of employer

- Basic duty of employer

- Plant reputation

- Multi-national/ mother company audits

- Image of company

- International companies

Meanin-gful Units

- Productivity and resources

- Equity theory

- Moral obligations

- Family values

- Valuing the human

Sense of duty

Globalization and occupational safety

Higher Order Theme

results discussion
Results & Discussion
  • Few work organizations in the representative sample implemented OSH law in Lebanon.
  • Major factors which impeded or encouraged employers to adopt safety and health measures
    • Employers lack of awareness on safety and health and its provisions;
    • Employer’s low perception of worker’s capacity to implement safety and health measures;
    • low cultural value given to prevention processes in Lebanon.
main findings
Main Findings
  • The provisions of ILO OSH Conventions and National OSH decrees do not reach the enterprises, which are ideally, the audience the law is meant to benefit:
    • The enterprises are not aware a national OSH decree exists; it is not accessible to employers and not promoted.
    • In the rare cases that the decree reaches the enterprise, it is generally discarded because relevance is not understood.
    • There is no communication between government (Ministry of Labour and its inspection arm), employer associations and enterprises.
main findings cont d
Main Findings (Cont’d)
  • Motivators
    • Enterprise OSH management systems that are recognized in the international market are more appealing to employers because they are hands on, provide certificates and hence improve the company’s image and raise their competitive profile i.e. increasing productivity.
    • This is also apparent in the fact that where workplace OSH policies do exist, they are never based on the national decree. Instead, they are either based on similar companies’ policies worldwide or they are the result of trial and error and institutional memory.
    • Employers in Lebanon and the region value the human being and family; this is an important drive to protect their workers.
    • Workers who are safe and healthy will keep working, which will increase productivity.
main findings cont d1
Main Findings(Cont’d)


  • Management lack awareness on occupational safety and health: its core matter, its relevance and significance in the workplace.
  • There is no perception of risk or risk assessment.
    • workers who have very low education are not worth training on OSH and will not understand it
    • even if they were to enforce safety and health measures, there is high worker non-compliance
    • direct link between a safe and healthy environment and productivity is just not clear; the benefits don’t seem to be tangible.
    • Lower management complain that there is no higher management commitment, some good initiatives start, but there is no follow-up.
    • There is the real work to do which makes money and pays salaries to worry about, rather than the conditions of work, which are secondary.
    • Economic and political instability bring the priorities down to the basic needs of survival, in light of which, OSH is considered a luxury.
    • Ignorance leads to the lax attitude management have towards occupational safety and health. This in turn results in poor safety and health practices.
  • A proposed strategy
    • build on the motivators of employers in Lebanon and the region whilst answering to the hesitations and misconceptions which impede implementation.
  • More future research needs to target workers’ safety and health KAP to find consistencies and inconsistencies with management beliefs.

International OSH standards and globalization

Community Culture: Non-preventive culture: where safety not a priority, making quick money comes 1st.

OSH should not be a luxury but a need even in unstable economic situations

National Influences: Political & economic instability. OSH is a wise investment regardless of national instabilities

  • Ministry of labour
  • Gives no incentives or support to employers and they have a competitive regional market
    • Tax free & approval of only OSH friendly projects at their licensing phase
  • National law should have guiding and practical nature as compared to ISO
  • Compensation systems require prevention

Trade Unions (sector syndicates should be informed & trained)

Employer Association & Chamber of commerce (member industries should be informed & trained)


Build trust & share knowledge (Bulletin, brochure, website, email), training for management on OSH and on decree, simplify decree), with the help of OSH Institutes.

Communication strategy

    • Worker attitude and behaviour influenced by management attitude and behaviour
  • Management perception of worker: Worker low education means no use training them and blames worker for risky behaviour
  • If so many accidents are due to human error as employers put it, then to avoid accidents, tasks have to be fitted to “human limitations” and taken care of in the design phase
  • Internationally recognised OSH management systems--link to profit
  • OSH focal pts. trained on OSH in order for OSH decrees not to be brushed aside
  • Proper promotion of PPEs by sensitizing workers to risk perception and removal of barriers

Enterprise (management):

Lack OSH awareness lax attitude & Performance pressure

Training on OSH

Don’t count the number of policies you have…

count who is implementing them…

and then ask why