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Jordan: Experts and human rights groups raise serious concerns regarding the application of occupational health & safety standards

During a webinar held by the Phenix Centre for Economic and Informatic Studies on 1 November 2020, experts affirmed that the Covid 19 crisis has revealed gaps in the implementation of occupational health and safety (OHS) standards in the enterprises in Jordan. Mr. Awad, the director of Phenix Centre, emphasized the urgent need for adequate OHS in the workplace as one of the essential criteria of decent work, as provided by the Jordanian constitution and internationally recognised human rights instruments. He added that the implementation of OHS in the workplace is of great importance to preserve the workers’ right to life and human resources as well as to enhance the productivity across various economic sectors. The advisor to the Secretary-General at the Ministry of Labor, Najah Abu Tafesh, stated that the OSH standards are relatively in line with the internationally recognised standards, however, there are challenges to their application and that the pandemic has pressed the need to further improve these standards.

In a similar vein, the NGO Tamkeen for Legal Aid and Human Rights issued a policy brief in collaboration with Ford Foundation regarding concerns of OHS in the workplace in Jordan. The paper says that Tamkeen documented 14 deaths in 2019 and 5 deaths in the first half of 2020 among migrant workers due to lack of OHS measures in their workplaces. The cases concern workers from Egypt, Syria and Pakistan. In addition, Tamkeen has received 63 complaints from Jordanian workers and migrant workers concerning issues related to OHS in different sectors, including factories and farms. The paper also mentions that the majority of migrant workers are employed in dangerous sectors and that most of them do not have social protection; either because they are employed in the informal sector or their employers have not registered them in the social protection scheme.