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Egypt: On World Day for Safety and Health, CFJ demands implementation of ILO and national laws to enhance workplace safety

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Egyptian workers face numerous challenges related to occupational health and safety, especially in high-risk industries, such as construction and electrical industries, in addition to the lack of legal and social protection for irregular workers that would allow their protection or compensation from work accidents and injuries.

Since the International Labour Organization declared the World Day for Safety and Health at Work in 2003, celebrated annually on April 28th, this day has become a global opportunity to highlight the importance of providing a safe and healthy work environment for all employees, and to raise awareness about the significance of peace, physical, and mental health in the workplace.

The World Day for Safety and Health at Work aims to increase awareness of the challenges faced by workers in various industries and to enhance global efforts to improve working conditions and provide a safe and healthy work environment; a social and moral duty shared by the state, employers, and workers.

Egypt’s Labor Law addresses the issue of occupational safety and health and securing the work environment, the law stipulates that anyone who violates this shall be punished with imprisonment for a period of not less than three months and a fine of not less than 1,000 EGP ($32) and not exceeding 10,000 EGP ($323) or one of these two penalties. The imprisonment penalties and fine stipulated in the previous paragraph are mandatory if the crime results in death or serious injury.

Article 209 of the law states that workplaces must take all necessary precautions to provide safety and prevent mechanical hazards, like collisions with hard objects, risks from machinery, and hazards from construction and building work.

However, the reality holds many contradictions to the above. CFJ documented in its first periodic bulletin for its Labor Justice project for the year 2024, during January and February, the death of about 11 workers and the injury of 7 in various accidents all falling under the “work injury” category defined in the Social Insurance Law No. 79 of 1975, which includes injuries that occur during work or because of it, and injuries occurring to the insured on their way to and from work.

Among these, the death of two workers due to an elevator accident inside a sauce factory in the 10th of Ramadan in Sharqia, and the death of a security member of a factory following the collapse of an iron gate on him, among many other serious accidents which the industrial establishments bear responsibility for preventing and protecting their workers from.

As we celebrate the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, CFJ urges the Egyptian authorities to enforce these rules more rigorously to reduce work hazards, protect workers, and ensure that victims and their families receive compensation proportional to the harm suffered.

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