Simon Ndirangu Muchohi1, Moses Kortok Mosobo1, Susan Morpeth1, Brett Lowe1,2, Norbert Peshu1
- Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)/Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Centre for Geographic Medicine Research (Coast), P.O. Box 230, 80108, Kilifi, Kenya.
- Sickle Cell Disease Study, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Central Pathology Laboratory, Muhimbili National Hospital, P.O. Box 65001, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Tel: +254 727 398898 or +255 783 432102.
There is a rapid advance in science, technology and biomedical research capacity in many research institutions in resource-limited countries. This has resulted in increased challenges in handling occupational health and safety issues, such as biosecurity and biosafety of biological materials, as well as biohazardous waste management.
Safeguarding the safety and health of the worker is a primary responsibility of the employer in any workplace, including a biomedical research setting. However, occupational health and safety (OSH) issues have generally been neglected in many workplaces. Moreover, the laws and regulations governing OSH in many resource-limited settings are generally lacking, inadequate, weak or difficult to implement in such settings. This is due to lack of support mechanisms, resources, and capacity at the national and institutional levels, to ensure that OSH management systems are implemented at the work place, and remain operational and effective. Occupational health services need to be strengthened to meet the emerging challenges. Basic and cost-effective preventive measures such as education, information, training and supervision in OSH are often overlooked, and need to be implemented as part of the institutional research agenda.
The objectives of this presentation are: (a) To give an overview of the Kenyan Occupational Safety and Heath Act (OSHA, 2007) implementation in a biomedical research setting involving a wide range of research activities and a diverse group of staff in KEMRI, Kilifi; (b) To outline the main challenges and problems faced in implementing OSH management systems in the workplace in a resource-limited setting; and (c) To highlight some key issues that need to be urgently addressed in order to ensure that OSH programmes can be effectively and successfully managed in resource-limited settings.
Key words: Biomedical research; occupational health and safety, management; resource-limited setting