The Contractor generally have a legal duty to ensure that:
- Steps are taken to assess health and safety risk, including the risk of occupational HIV infection;
- The risk of possible HIV infection is minimized;
- Staff training is undertaken on safety steps to be taken following an accident;
- Universal infection control procedures are used in any situation where there is possible exposure to blood or blood products;
- Universal infection control equipment is available for employees at the site of any accident;
- There are systems in place for the safe disposal of sharps and medical waste; and
- Protocols exist for the management of occupational exposure to potentially infected blood or body fluids.
Broadly, for the Contractor to rise to the challenge and make a comprehensive response in the war against HIV/AIDS, the framework adopted is as follows:
A clear policy has been agreed on at Board level and it is seen as a prime part of the Director’s responsibility to turn the policy into action. HIV/AIDS is such a strategic issue that it cannot be delegated to the Human Resources Department to handle as just another personnel matter. A dedicated HIV/AIDS Coordinator will be appointed from the local health support staff to come and conduct awareness campaigns and impart knowledge on the challenge and to oversee the programs that convert the policy into activities on the ground. The prime objective of our policy is to create an enabling, non-discriminatory environment in which HIV/AIDS is viewed as just another medical condition – albeit a very important one – that is handled professionally, compassionately and properly.
This ushers in the second point which is the necessity for monitoring the programs which are implemented in terms of the HIV/AIDS strategy. Key performance indicators on prevention care and treatment will be drawn up and agreed with local health providers’ guidance. In other words, HIV/AIDS is regarded in exactly the same light as safety. After all, it is a huge part of the ‘H’ in any SHE (Safety, Health and the Environment) program.
In addition, our corporate HIV/AIDS programs are evaluated at regular intervals because knowledge of what is and what is not effective is still at an early stage. This will necessitate feedback loops on whether prevention programs are actually achieving behavioural change and whether care and treatment initiatives are really improving the quality of life of those infected with the virus and their families.
More specifically, the centrepiece of our workplace program is based on voluntary counselling and testing. This in turn is complemented by our wellness program which is already in place, which includes treatment of opportunistic diseases such as malaria, TB and pneumonia as well as antiretroviral therapy (when a patient’s CD4 count falls below a certain threshold figure). Another critical element of our prevention program is that we encourage employees to have regular check-ups for sexually transmitted infections in general as these vastly increase the chances of catching HIV and they can all be successfully treated.
For our company to fulfil all three legs of the triple bottom line (profits, people and the nation) in regard to HIV/AIDS, outreach programs in the neighbouring communities of the company’s operations are also added to workplace programs.
We recognize the prevalence of HIV/AIDS and will put in place measures necessary to combat the scourge. Such measures will include, but not limited to, the supply of condoms in strategic places on the site, regular briefings of employees on the disease by professional staff etc. In doing this we will solicit assistance and support from local health facilitates in the area and the office of the AIDS Coordinator in the district.
Our policy is zero discrimination and victimization. No employee will be encouraged, coerced or forced to get tested for HIV/AIDS within our organisation.
This policy will be reviewed on a regular basis to conform to ruling legislation and current Government of Botswana standards and recommended industry practice.
The greatest asset of the Company is the employees and wherever possible the Company will continue to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for all.