Occupational Safety and Health
- For the purpose of this chapter, the term health, in relation to work, indicates not merely the absence of disease or infirmity; it also includes the physical and mental elements affecting health which are directly related to safety and hygiene at work.
- An employer shall ensure safety, health and welfare at the workplace for all the workers.
- The employer shall provide, where necessary, adequate protective clothing and protective equipment to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, risk of accidents or adverse effects on health;
- The employer shall provide such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure the safety and health at work of every worker.
- The employer shall take reasonably practicable measures to ensure safety and the absence of risk to health in connection with the use, handling, storage and transport of any article and substance.
- The worker shall comply with all safety, health and welfare measures instituted and instructed by the employer.
 Islam attaches great significance to the safety of human life. As the verse 05:32 states, “On account of this, We prescribed (this commandment in the Torah sent down) to the Children of Israel that whoever killed a person (unjustly), except as a punishment for murder or for (spreading) disorder in the land, it would be as if he killed all the people (of society); and whoever (saved him from unjust murder and) made him survive, it would be as if he saved the lives of all the people (of society, i.e., he rescued the collective system of human life). And indeed, Our Messengers came to them with evident signs. Yet, even after that, the majority from amongst these people are certainly those who commit excesses in the land”. (05:32)
مِنْ أَجْلِ ذَٰلِكَ كَتَبْنَا عَلَىٰ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنَّهُ مَن قَتَلَ نَفْسًا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَمَنْ أَحْيَاهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا ۚ وَلَقَدْ جَاءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ ثُمَّ إِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِّنْهُم بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ فِي الْأَرْضِ لَمُسْرِفُونَ
This verse applies to the workplace as well, stressing the importance of a worker’s life and the requirement of taking all necessary measures to protect it.
Another Quranic verse 05:105 refers to safety measures in the following words, “O believers! Take care of your own selves. No one who goes astray can do you harm, provided you have become rightly guided. All of you have to return to Allah alone. He will then apprise you of (the works) that you used to do”. (05:105)
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَنفُسَكُمْ ۖ لَا يَضُرُّكُم مَّن ضَلَّ إِذَا اهْتَدَيْتُمْ ۚ إِلَى اللَّهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ
This implies that health and safety measures are significant, and the workers should ask the employer for safety equipment, where needed.
Workers should not only follow the occupational safety and health regulations at the workplace but should also ensure that others do the same. A parable shared by the Prophet (ﷺ) highlights the issue: “The example of the person abiding by Allah’s orders and limits (or the one who abides by the limits and regulations prescribed by Allah) in comparison to the one who does wrong and violates Allah’s limits and orders is like the example of people drawing lots for seats in a boat. Some of them got seats in the upper part while the others in the lower part; those in the, lower part have to pass by those in the upper one to get water, and that troubled the latter. One of them (i.e., the people in the lower part) took an axe and started making a hole in the bottom of the boat. The people of the upper part came and asked him, (saying), ‘What is wrong with you?’ He replied, “You have been troubled much by my (coming up to you), and I have to get water.’ Now if they prevent him from doing that they will save him and themselves, but if they leave him (to do what he wants), they will destroy him and themselves”. (Sahih Bukhari: 2686)
مَثَلُ الْمُدْهِنِ فِي حُدُودِ اللَّهِ وَالْوَاقِعِ فِيهَا مَثَلُ قَوْمٍ اسْتَهَمُوا سَفِينَةً، فَصَارَ بَعْضُهُمْ فِي أَسْفَلِهَا وَصَارَ بَعْضُهُمْ فِي أَعْلاَهَا، فَكَانَ الَّذِي فِي أَسْفَلِهَا يَمُرُّونَ بِالْمَاءِ عَلَى الَّذِينَ فِي أَعْلاَهَا، فَتَأَذَّوْا بِهِ، فَأَخَذَ فَأْسًا، فَجَعَلَ يَنْقُرُ أَسْفَلَ السَّفِينَةِ، فَأَتَوْهُ فَقَالُوا مَا لَكَ قَالَ تَأَذَّيْتُمْ بِي، وَلاَ بُدَّ لِي مِنَ الْمَاءِ، فَإِنْ أَخَذُوا عَلَى يَدَيْهِ أَنْجَوْهُ وَنَجَّوْا أَنْفُسَهُمْ، وَإِنْ تَرَكُوهُ أَهْلَكُوهُ وَأَهْلَكُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ
Other than health and safety, the above hadith also highlights the need for a trade union, association or a work council to protect the interests of all workers, otherwise the organization or enterprise will sink like the boat in above parable.
Besides, a hadith narrated in Sahih Bukhari stresses the significance of protection measures. It says, “Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)said, “Five kinds of animals are mischief-doers and can be killed even in the Sanctuary: They are the rat, the scorpion, the kite, the crow, and the rabid dog”. (Sahih Bukhari:3314)
خَمْسٌ فَوَاسِقُ، يُقْتَلْنَ فِي الحَرَمِ: الفَأْرَةُ، وَالعَقْرَبُ، وَالحُدَيَّا، وَالغُرَابُ، وَالكَلْبُ العَقُورُ
Although killing animals in the state of Ihram is not allowed or within the territorial limits of sanctuary of Makkah, to provide a safe and healthy environment, one can still kill some harmful animals even when in Ihram. In the same way, another hadith states, The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “It is not sinful of a person in the state of Ihram to kill any of these five animals: The scorpion, the rat, the rabid dog, the crow, and the kite”. (Sahih Bukhari:3315)
خَمْسٌ مِنَ الدَّوَابِّ، مَنْ قَتَلَهُنَّ وَهُوَ مُحْرِمٌ فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِ: العَقْرَبُ، وَالفَأْرَةُ، وَالكَلْبُ العَقُورُ، وَالغُرَابُ، وَالحِدَأَةُ
Also, Jami’at Tirmidhi narrated, “The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “The Muhrim (one wearing the Ihram) may kill the wild beast of prey, the rabid dog, the mouse, the scorpion, the kite, and the crow”. (Jami’at Tirmidhi: 838)
يَقْتُلُ المُحْرِمُ السَّبُعَ العَادِيَ، وَالكَلْبَ العَقُورَ، وَالفَأْرَةَ، وَالعَقْرَبَ، وَالحِدَأَةَ، وَالغُرَابَ
These traditions of the Prophet (ﷺ) imply that safety and health precautions are vital, wherever and whenever required. Any negligence in OSH matters must be taken seriously. A tradition reported in Sunan Abi Dawud also refers to the importance and necessity of taking safety measures, as mentioned, “The Prophet (ﷺ) said: Kill the two black things during prayer, the snake and scorpion”. (Sunan Abi Dawud: 921)
اقْتُلُوا الْأَسْوَدَيْنِ فِي الصَّلَاةِ: الْحَيَّةَ، وَالْعَقْرَبَ
Similarly, Sahih Bukhari narrates the following tradition, which implies the significance of adopting safety measures in hazardous work situations to protect workers. As stated, “Once on a freezing and stormy night, Ibn Umar (RA) pronounced the Adhan for the prayer and then said, “Pray in your homes”. He (Ibn Umar) added. “On freezing and rainy nights, Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) used to order the Mu’adh-dhin to say, ‘Pray in your homes”. (Sahih Bukhari: 666)
أَنَّ ابْنَ عُمَرَ، أَذَّنَ بِالصَّلاَةِ فِي لَيْلَةٍ ذَاتِ بَرْدٍ وَرِيحٍ، ثُمَّ قَالَ: أَلاَ صَلُّوا فِي الرِّحَالِ، ثُمَّ قَالَ: إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَانَ يَأْمُرُ المُؤَذِّنَ إِذَا كَانَتْ لَيْلَةٌ ذَاتُ بَرْدٍ وَمَطَرٍ، يَقُولُ: «أَلاَ صَلُّوا فِي الرِّحَالِ
Also, the Quran instructs at another place, “Should you be in a state of fear, then (do offer Prayer) whether on foot or whilst riding (as the case may be), but once you get back to peace, remember Allah in the manner He has taught you which you did not know (before)”. (02:239)
فَإنْ خِفْتُمْ فَرِجَالاً أَوْ رُكْبَانًا فَإِذَا أَمِنتُمْ فَاذْكُرُواْ اللّهَ كَمَا عَلَّمَكُم مَّا لَمْ تَكُونُواْ تَعْلَمُونَ
This also suggests that the safety and security of a worker are important enough to change or amend the established policies at a workplace and until the workers are given appropriate health and safety protection. Worker safety is paramount.
Moreover, the Quran further guides “(Recall) when two groups from amongst you (Banu Salama Khazraj and Banu Haritha Aws) intended cowardliness although Allah was their ally. And the believers must have trust in Allah alone”. (03:122)
إِذْ هَمَّت طَّائِفَتَانِ مِنكُمْ أَن تَفْشَلَا وَاللَّهُ وَلِيُّهُمَا ۗ وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ
This implies that mental health should be deemed necessary at the workplace and mental health protection should be considered of workers as it can affect the physical capacity or capability of a worker, putting them and others in dangerous/hazardous situations.
 Islam instructs employers to ensure the safety of their workers. It has been narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Beware. Every one of you is a shepherd, and everyone is answerable with regard to his flock. The Caliph is a shepherd over the people and shall be questioned about his subjects (as to how he conducted their affairs). A man is a guardian over the members of his family and shall be questioned about them (as to how he looked after their physical and moral well-being). A woman is a guardian over the household of her husband and his children and shall be questioned about them (as to how she managed the household and brought up the children). A slave is a guardian over the property of his master and shall be questioned about it (as to how he safeguarded his trust). Beware, every one of you is a guardian, and every one of you shall be questioned about their trust”. (Sahih Muslim: 1829, Book 33, hadith 24)
أَلاَ كُلُّكُمْ رَاعٍ وَكُلُّكُمْ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ فَالأَمِيرُ الَّذِي عَلَى النَّاسِ رَاعٍ وَهُوَ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ وَالرَّجُلُ رَاعٍ عَلَى أَهْلِ بَيْتِهِ وَهُوَ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْهُمْ وَالْمَرْأَةُ رَاعِيَةٌ عَلَى بَيْتِ بَعْلِهَا وَوَلَدِهِ وَهِيَ مَسْئُولَةٌ عَنْهُمْ وَالْعَبْدُ رَاعٍ عَلَى مَالِ سَيِّدِهِ وَهُوَ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْهُ أَلاَ فَكُلُّكُمْ رَاعٍ وَكُلُّكُمْ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ
This hadith implies that the employers are responsible for their dependents, i.e., their workers and should protect them from all hazards in the workplace. In the same way, the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Every joint of a person must perform a charity each day that the sun rises: to judge justly between two people is a charity. To help a man with his mount, lifting him onto it or hoisting up his belongings onto it, is a charity. And the good word is a charity. And every step that you take towards the prayer is a charity, and removing a harmful object from the road is a charity”. (Sahih Bukhari 2989, Book 56, hadith 198)
كُلُّ سُلاَمَى مِنَ النَّاسِ عَلَيْهِ صَدَقَةٌ كُلَّ يَوْمٍ تَطْلُعُ فِيهِ الشَّمْسُ، يَعْدِلُ بَيْنَ الاِثْنَيْنِ صَدَقَةٌ، وَيُعِينُ الرَّجُلَ عَلَى دَابَّتِهِ، فَيَحْمِلُ عَلَيْهَا، أَوْ يَرْفَعُ عَلَيْهَا مَتَاعَهُ صَدَقَةٌ، وَالْكَلِمَةُ الطَّيِّبَةُ صَدَقَةٌ، وَكُلُّ خَطْوَةٍ يَخْطُوهَا إِلَى الصَّلاَةِ صَدَقَةٌ، وَيُمِيطُ الأَذَى عَنِ الطَّرِيقِ صَدَقَةٌ
This suggests the importance of introducing protective measures (to avoid hazardous conditions at work) and requires employers to provide personal protective equipment to workers. Moreover, in Sahih Muslim, it is narrated that, “While we were sitting in the company of ‘Abdullah b. ‘Umar there came in his steward. He (Ibn’ Umar) said: Have you supplied the provision to the slaves? He said: No. Upon this he said: Go and give (the provision) to them, for the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) has said: This sin is enough for a man that he withholds the subsistence from one whose master he is”.
كَفَى بِالْمَرْءِ إِثْمًا أَنْ يَحْبِسَ عَمَّنْ يَمْلِكُ قُوتَه
This refers to the importance of fulfilling duties and suggests that employers should fulfil all their responsibilities towards their workers in a timely manner. The employer is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of the workers in the workplace by instituting relevant protection measures.
The Quranic verse 02:195 states, “And spend in the Cause of Allah (i.e., Jihad of all kinds, etc.) and do not throw yourselves into destruction (by not spending your wealth in the Cause of Allah), and do good. Truly, Allah loves Al-Muhsinin (the good-doers)”. (02:195)
وَأَنفِقُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَلَا تُلْقُوا بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ ۛ وَأَحْسِنُوا ۛ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
The verse implies that employers should provide health and safety measures and training in the workplace and money should be spent accordingly to ensure health and safety at workplace. This also means that workers should follow health and safety regulations at the workplace and should not cause harm to themselves or others through their negligence. The verse 27:07 can also be applied here, as it says, “(Remember) when Musa (Moses) said to his household: “Verily! I have seen a fire, I will bring you from there some information, or I will bring you a burning brand, that you may warm yourselves”.
إِذْ قَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِأَهْلِهِ إِنِّي آنَسْتُ نَارًا سَآتِيكُم مِّنْهَا بِخَبَرٍ أَوْ آتِيكُم بِشِهَابٍ قَبَسٍ لَّعَلَّكُمْ تَصْطَلُونَ
This suggests that the employer must provide the health and safety facilities and environment to the workers as per seasonal requirements. In Sahih Muslim, a tradition is narrated which states that “Plague is a calamity which was inflicted on those who were before you, or upon Bani Isra’il. So, when it has broken out in a land, don’t run out of it, and when it has spread in a land, then don’t enter it”. (Sahih Muslim: 2218/94)
إِنَّ هَذَا الطَّاعُونَ رِجْزٌ سُلِّطَ عَلَى مَنْ كَانَ قَبْلَكُمْ، أَوْ عَلَى بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ، فَإِذَا كَانَ بِأَرْضٍ فَلَا تَخْرُجُوا مِنْهَا فِرَارًا مِنْهُ، وَإِذَا كَانَ بِأَرْضٍ فَلَا تَدْخُلُوهَا
This hadith implies that there should be health and safety policies in a workplace. All health and safety precautions in a workplace should be taken for workers’ welfare. The employer should not delay in protecting the workers to gain any benefit.
Also, another tradition of the Prophet (ﷺ) implies the need for safety and health measures in the workplace. hadith 3316 states, “The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Cover your utensils and tie your water skins, and close your doors and keep your children close to you at night, as the Jinns spread out at such time and snatch things away. When you go to bed, put out your lights, for the mischief-doer (i.e. the rat) may drag away the wick of the candle and burn the dwellers of the house”. (Sahih Bukhari: 3316)
خَمِّرُوا الآنِيَةَ، وَأَوْكُوا الأَسْقِيَةَ، وَأَجِيفُوا الأَبْوَابَ، وَاكْفِتُوا صِبْيَانَكُمْ عِنْدَ الْعِشَاءِ، فَإِنَّ لِلْجِنِّ انْتِشَارًا وَخَطْفَةً، وَأَطْفِئُوا الْمَصَابِيحَ عِنْدَ الرُّقَادِ، فَإِنَّ الْفُوَيْسِقَةَ رُبَّمَا اجْتَرَّتِ الْفَتِيلَةَ فَأَحْرَقَتْ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ
Similarly, a tradition is narrated in Sahih Muslim hadith: “Cover the vessels and tie the waterskin, for there is a night in a year when pestilence descends, and it does not pass an uncovered vessel or an untied waterskin but some of that pestilence descending into it”. (Sahih Muslim: 2014/99)
غطوا الإناءَ ، وأوكوا السّقاءَ ، فإن في السنةِ ليلةٌ ينزلُ فيها وباءٌ ، لا يمرّ بإناءٍ ليسَ عليهِ غطاءٌ ، أو سقاءٌ ليسَ عليهِ وِكاءٌ إلا نزلَ فيهِ من ذلكَ الوباءِ
“Jabir told of hearing Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) say, “When you hear the barking of dogs and the braying of asses at night seek refuge in Allah from the accursed devil, for they see what you do not see. Do not go out much when there are few people about, for Allah who is great and glorious scatters outside (during night hours) such of His creatures as He wishes at night. Shut the doors, making mention of Allah’s name, for the devil does not open a door which has been shut accompanied by mention of Allah’s name. Cover up jars, invert and tie up buckets”. (Mishkat al Masabih: 4232)
إذا سَمِعْتم نُباحَ الكلابِ ، ونَهِيقَ الحَمِيرِ من الليلِ ؛ فتَعَوَّذُوا باللهِ من الشيطانِ ؛ فإنهن يَرَيْنَ ما لا تَرَوْنَ ، وأَقِلُّوا الخروجَ إذا هَدَأَتِ الأَرْجُلُ ؛ فإنَّ اللهَ – عَزَّ وجَلَّ يَبُثُّ من خلقِه في ليلِه ما يشاءُ ، وأَجِيفُوا الأبوابَ ، واذكروا اسمَ اللهِ عليها ؛ فإنَّ الشيطانَ لا يفتحُ بابًا إذ أُجِيفَ وذُكِرَ اسمُ اللهِ عليه ، وغَطُّوا الجِرَارَ ، وأَكْفِئُوا الآنيةَ ، وأَوْكُوا القِرَبَ
The ahadith above suggest that health and safety precautions should be taken by employers and should be followed by workers.
Moreover, some traditions indicate that protection measures are required for hazardous work, and appropriate protection should be taken. And that some general rules can be relaxed to protect workers. As said in hadith 2231/126, “Amr b. Sharid reported on the authority of his father that there was in the delegation of Thaqif a leper. Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) sent a message to him: We have accepted your allegiance so that you may go”. (Sahih Muslim: 2231)
عَنْ عَمْرِو بْنِ الشَّرِيدِ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، قَالَ: كَانَ فِي وَفْدِ ثَقِيفٍ رَجُلٌ مَجْذُومٌ، فَأَرْسَلَ إِلَيْهِ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِنَّا قَدْ بَايَعْنَاكَ فَارْجِعْ
The oath of allegiance used to be taken by holding hands however the rule was relaxed in order to protect others. In another tradition, the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “The cattle (sheep, cows, camels, etc.) suffering from a disease should not be mixed up with healthy cattle, (or said: “Do not put a patient with a healthy person). (As a precaution).(Sahih Bukhari: 5771)
لاَ يُورِدَنَّ مُمْرِضٌ عَلَى مُصِحٍّ
In workplaces, it is important to separate the healthy from sick. And this is done by giving sick leave to a person who is sick. Similarly, another tradition states, “Yahya ibn Abdullah ibn Buhayr said that he was informed by one who had heard Farwah ibn Musayk tell that he said: Messenger of Allah (ﷺ)! We have land called Abyan, which is the land where we have our fields and grow our crops, but it is very unhealthy. The Prophet (ﷺ) said: Leave it, for destruction comes from being near disease”.
(Sunan Abi Dawud: 3923)
فَرْوَةَ بْنَ مُسَيْكٍ، قَالَ: قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَرْضٌ عِنْدَنَا يُقَالُ لَهَا أَرْضُ أَبْيَنَ هِيَ أَرْضُ رِيفِنَا، وَمِيرَتِنَا، وَإِنَّهَا وَبِئَةٌ، أَوْ قَالَ وَبَاؤُهَا شَدِيدٌ فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ: دَعْهَا عَنْكَ، فَإِنَّ مِنَ القَرَفِ التَّلَف
The Quranic verse 04:71 says, “O believers! Fit out for your safeguard, then set out as separate units or march off all together”. (04:71)
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ خُذُواْ حِذْرَكُمْ فَانْفِرُواْ ثُبَاتٍ أَوِ انْفِرُواْ جَمِيعًا
This verse implies that all necessary safety and health measures should be taken before undertaking hazardous work. Sunan Abi Dawud narrates that, “the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: Tie the horses, rub down their forelocks and their buttocks (or he said: Their rumps), and put things on their necks, but do not put bowstrings”. (Sunan Abi Dawud: 2553)
ارْتَبِطُوا الْخَيْلَ، وَامْسَحُوا بِنَوَاصِيهَا وَأَعْجَازِهَا – أَوْ قَالَ: «أَكْفَالِهَا» – وَقَلِّدُوهَا وَلَا تُقَلِّدُوهَا الْأَوْتَارَ
This hadith also refers to safety measures which should be taken before hazardous work. Similarly, Mu’watta Imam Malik, narrated “Abu Bashir al-Ansari told him that he was with the Messenger of Allah, (ﷺ), on one of his journeys. He related, “The Messenger of Allah, (ﷺ), sent a messenger”. (Abdullah ibn Abi Bakr said, (I think that he said it was while the people were in their resting place.) He said, “Do not let a single-string necklace, or any necklace, remain unbroken on the neck of a camel”. Yahya said, “I heard Malik say, ‘I think that was because of the evil eye. (Muwatta Malik: Book 49, hadith 39)
أَنَّ أَبَا بَشِيرٍ الأَنْصَارِيَّ، أَخْبَرَهُ أَنَّهُ، كَانَ مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي بَعْضِ أَسْفَارِهِ – قَالَ – فَأَرْسَلَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم رَسُولاً قَالَ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ أَبِي بَكْرٍ حَسِبْتُ أَنَّهُ قَالَ وَالنَّاسُ فِي مَقِيلِهِمْ لاَ تَبْقَيَنَّ فِي رَقَبَةِ بَعِيرٍ قِلاَدَةٌ مِنْ وَتَرٍ أَوْ قِلاَدَةٌ إِلاَّ قُطِعَتْ
This hadith also suggests the need for protective measures at the workplace. hadith No. 3005 in Sahih Bukhari, Book of fighting for the cause of Allah (Jihad), also implies as in the previous hadith.
Islam suggests that relevant precautionary and protective measures should be taken before accepting God’s decree and putting one’s trust in Allah. Anas ibn Malik reported: A man said, “O Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), should I tie my camel and trust in Allah, or should I leave her untied and trust in Allah?” The Prophet (ﷺ), said, “Tie her and trust in Allah”. (Jami’at Tirmidhī 2517)
قَالَ رَجُلٌ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَعْقِلُهَا وَأَتَوَكَّلُ أَوْ أُطْلِقُهَا وَأَتَوَكَّلُ قَالَ اعْقِلْهَا وَتَوَكَّلْ
This hadith suggests that both employers and workers are required to take relevant health and safety precautions in the workplace. Moreover, the verse 13:11 states, “For (every) human being there are (angels) coming in succession which, before him and behind him, guard him by the command of Allah. Verily, Allah does not change the state of a people until they bring about a change in themselves. And when Allah intends to torment a people (due to their own evil works), then none can avert it. Nor is there any helper for them apart from Allah”. (13:11)
لَهُ مُعَقِّبَاتٌ مِّن بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِ يَحْفَظُونَهُ مِنْ أَمْرِ اللّهِ إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّى يُغَيِّرُواْ مَا بِأَنْفُسِهِمْ وَإِذَا أَرَادَ اللّهُ بِقَوْمٍ سُوءًا فَلاَ مَرَدَّ لَهُ وَمَا لَهُم مِّن دُونِهِ مِن وَالٍ
This verse also supports the idea that employers, as well as workers, should undertake relevant protection measures rather than be intentionally negligent and then put the blame on fate or on each other if any accident occurs at the workplace. Similarly, the Quranic verse 12:67 states, “And he said: ‘O my sons, do not enter (the city) all of you by one gate, but enter (dispersed) through different gates. And I cannot save you by any means from Allah’s (decree) because judgment (i.e., destiny) rests with Allah alone. In Him have I put my trust, and all those who trust must trust in Him alone”. (12:67)
وَقَالَ يَا بَنِيَّ لَا تَدْخُلُوا مِن بَابٍ وَاحِدٍ وَادْخُلُوا مِنْ أَبْوَابٍ مُّتَفَرِّقَةٍ ۖ وَمَا أُغْنِي عَنكُم مِّنَ اللَّهِ مِن شَيْءٍ ۖ إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلَّا لِلَّهِ ۖ عَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ ۖ وَعَلَيْهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُتَوَكِّلُونَ
Besides, Sahih Muslim narrates, “When the wings of the night (spread) or it is night, restrain your children (from going out), for the Satan is abroad at that time, and when a part of the night is passed, free them and shut the doors. making mention of God’s name, for Satan does not open a closed door; and tighten the (mouths of waterskins and mention the name of Allah, cover your utensils and mention the name of Allah even though you should just put something on them, and extinguish your lamps”. (Sahih Muslim: 2012)
إِذَا كَانَ جُنْحُ اللَّيْلِ – أَوْ أَمْسَيْتُمْ – فَكُفُّوا صِبْيَانَكُمْ، فَإِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ يَنْتَشِرُ حِينَئِذٍ، فَإِذَا ذَهَبَ سَاعَةٌ مِنَ اللَّيْلِ فَخَلُّوهُمْ، وَأَغْلِقُوا الْأَبْوَابَ، وَاذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللهِ، فَإِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ لَا يَفْتَحُ بَابًا مُغْلَقًا، وَأَوْكُوا قِرَبَكُمْ، وَاذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللهِ، وَخَمِّرُوا آنِيَتَكُمْ وَاذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللهِ، وَلَوْ أَنْ تَعْرُضُوا عَلَيْهَا شَيْئًا، وَأَطْفِئُوا مَصَابِيحَكُمْ
The above evidence (verses and ahadith) implies that all health and safety measures at the workplace are required to be undertaken by both employer and worker, and they cannot absolve themselves of blame if they do not follow the required precautions.
It is also employers’ responsibility to remove hazardous materials and waste from the workplace. Spending on occupational safety and health is also a good deed (sadaqah). A companion asked the Prophet (ﷺ) about an action that would admit him to heaven. The Prophet spoke the following: “Remove from the paths of people things that hinder (and injure) them (i.e., any hazardous material)”. (Adab al Mufrad: 228)
أَمِطِ الأَذَى عَنْ طَرِيقِ النَّاسِ
In another instance, the Prophet (ﷺ) said that a person was forgiven for removing a thorny bush from people’s path. (Adab al Mufrad: 229)
The Prophet (ﷺ) once remarked that the removal of something hazardous from the road is a good deed. (Adab al Mufrad: 230)
 The Quranic verse 07:26 states, “O Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover yourselves (screen your private parts, etc.) and as an adornment, and the raiment of righteousness, that is better. Such are among the Ayat (proofs, pieces of evidence, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah that they may remember (i.e., leave falsehood and follow truth)”. (07:26)
يَٰبَنِىٓ ءَادَمَ قَدْ أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكُمْ لِبَاسًا يُوَٰرِى سَوْءَٰتِكُمْ وَرِيشًا ۖ وَلِبَاسُ ٱلتَّقْوَىٰ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ ءَايَٰتِ ٱللَّهِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَذَّكَّرُونَ
This implies that personal protective gear is necessary as a form of safety and health precaution. Therefore, the clothing and equipment at the workplace should be protective of skin and body against the relevant hazards. The PPE should be kept well maintained. The verse 16:81 says, “And Allah has made for you out of that which He has created shades, and has made for you places of refuge in the mountains, and has made for you garments to protect you from the heat (and cold), and coats of mail to protect you from your (mutual) violence. Thus does He perfect His Grace unto you, that you may submit yourselves to His Will (in Islam)”.
وَاللَّهُ جَعَلَ لَكُم مِّمَّا خَلَقَ ظِلَالًا وَجَعَلَ لَكُم مِّنَ الْجِبَالِ أَكْنَانًا وَجَعَلَ لَكُمْ سَرَابِيلَ تَقِيكُمُ الْحَرَّ وَسَرَابِيلَ تَقِيكُم بَأْسَكُمْ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يُتِمُّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُسْلِمُونَ
This verse also supports the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) against hazardous work. Therefore, the provision of PPE is the responsibility of the employer.
While it is the employer’s responsibility to provide protective equipment, the worker is also required to use it effectively. The Quran guides in the following words: “But it shall not be wrong for you to lay down your arms (while you pray) if you are troubled by rain or if you are ill; but (always) be fully prepared against danger”. (04:102)
وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِنْ كَانَ بِكُمْ أَذًى مِنْ مَطَرٍ أَوْ كُنْتُمْ مَرْضَى أَنْ تَضَعُوا أَسْلِحَتَكُمْ وَخُذُوا حِذْرَكُمْ
Besides, a saying of Caliph Ali (RA) refers to the importance of protective clothing at the workplace, saying that, “Therefore, the best clothing of every time is the clothing of the people (of that time)”. (Al-Kafi, v. 6, p. 444, no. 15)
فخَيرُ لِباسِ كُلِّ زمانٍ لِباسُ أهلِهِ
This implies that every occasion (place and time) requires clothes to be worn accordingly. Therefore, every workplace requires different type of PPE, which is relevant to the work and the kind of work being done there. Furthermore, it is narrated in Sahih Bukhari that “The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “When anyone of you goes to bed, he should shake out his bed with the inside of his waist sheet, for he does not know what has come on to it after him”. (Sahih Bukhari: 6320)
إِذَا أَوَى أَحَدُكُمْ إِلَى فِرَاشِهِ فَلْيَنْفُضْ فِرَاشَهُ بِدَاخِلَةِ إِزَارِهِ، فَإِنَّهُ لاَ يَدْرِي مَا خَلَفَهُ عَلَيْهِ،
This hadith implies that to ensure safety at the workplace, maintenance of work equipment and protective gear is vital.
 The Quranic verses 12:05 and 15:80 refer to the importance of health and safety instruction at the workplace. Verse 12:05 says, “He (the father) said: “O my son! Relate not your vision to your brothers, lest they arrange a plot against you. Verily! Shaitan (Satan) is to man an open enemy!”. (12:05)
قَالَ يَا بُنَيَّ لَا تَقْصُصْ رُؤْيَاكَ عَلَىٰ إِخْوَتِكَ فَيَكِيدُوا لَكَ كَيْدًا ۖ إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ لِلْإِنسَانِ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ
The Prophet Yaqub (AS) advised his son, the Prophet Yusuf (AS) not to narrate his vision/dream to his brothers for his safety/protection. This shows that workplace health and safety training is necessary for the protection of workers.
Also, verse 15:80 states, “And verily, the dwellers of Al-Hijr (the rocky tract) denied the Messengers”. (15:80)
وَلَقَدْ كَذَّبَ اَصْحٰبُ الْحِـجْرِ الْمُرْسَلِيْنَ
During the expedition of Tabuk, the Prophet (ﷺ) prohibited his companions to use the water of Hajr Valley for drinking and cooking purpose as the Thamud were destroyed in that valley. The verse implies the significance of health and safety instruction in the workplace, which if not provided or followed, can lead to harm for the workers. The health and safety measures are also vital in the provision of drinking water and food as well as in the working environment and equipment. Also, in Sahih Bukhari, Chapter: 34, Sales and Trade, hadith No: 285, Narrated/Authority of Aisha, “The companions of Allah’s Apostle used to practice manual labour, so their sweat used to smell, and they were advised to take a bath”. (Sahih Bukhari: 2071)
كَانَ أَصْحَابُ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عُمَّالَ أَنْفُسِهِمْ، وَكَانَ يَكُونُ لَهُمْ أَرْوَاحٌ فَقِيلَ لَهُمْ لَوِ اغْتَسَلْتُمْ
This implies that instruction and supervision of workers’ health in regards to the work they do is also the responsibility of the employer. The Prophet (ﷺ) also said: “Cleanliness is half of faith”. (Sahih Muslim: 223). Cleanliness is the first step towards a safe and healthy workplace.
الطُّهُورُ شَطْرُ الإِيمَانِ
Keeping oneself clean is also required under the Quran: “And (always) keep your (visible and spiritual) attire purified and cleansed (as before)”. (74:04)
 The Quranic verse 02:185 says, “The month of Ramadan (is the month) in which the Qur’an has been sent down as guidance for mankind containing clear signs which lead (to the straight road) and distinguishing (the truth from falsehood). Therefore, he who witnesses this month must fast it, and he who is ill or on a journey should complete the count by (fasting on equal number of) other days. Allah desires ease for you and does not desire hardship for you so that you complete the prescribed number of fasting days, and that you glorify Him for the guidance which He has blessed you with, and that you may become grateful”.
شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ ۚ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ ۖ وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۗ يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُوا الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
This implies that workplace regulations should allow workers to change their work methods in order to protect their health. Similarly, the verse 05:06 mentions, “…Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you” …
مَا يُرِيْدُ اللہُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِّنْ حَرَجٍ وَّلٰكِنْ يُّرِيْدُ لِيُطَہِّرَكُمْ
Here, the Quran refers again to the fundamental objective of various commands in it. The only aim is to purify people. While provision of PPE and ensuring other safety measures at workplace may be too exacting for the employer, Quran gives a principle of doing what is reasonably practicable. In order to protect workers, the employers must follow basic health and safety guidelines and then do what is “reasonably practicable”.
 The Quranic verse 02:195 also applies here as it says, “And spend in the Cause of Allah (i.e. Jihad of all kinds, etc.) and do not throw yourselves into destruction, and do good. Truly, Allah loves Al-Muhsinin (the good-doers)”.
وَأَنفِقُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَلَا تُلْقُوا بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ ۛ وَأَحْسِنُوا ۛ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
This suggests that workers should follow all workplace health and safety measures to avoid causing harm to themselves and not be intentionally negligent. Moreover, it is narrated in Sunan Abi Dawud that “the Prophet (ﷺ) said: If anyone spends the night with grease on his hand which he has not washed away, he can blame only himself if some trouble comes to him”. (Sunan Abi Dawud: 3852)
مَنْ نَامَ وَفِي يَدِهِ غَمَرٌ، وَلَمْ يَغْسِلْهُ فَأَصَابَهُ شَيْءٌ، فَلَا يَلُومَنَّ إِلَّا نَفْسَهُ
This hadith refers to workers who do not follow health and safety instructions or use the protective equipment supplied to them by the employer or are negligent. Such workers cannot blame the employer for the harm which happens as a result of that. Similarly, in verse 04:59, Allah says, “O believers! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (ﷺ) and those (men of truth) who hold command amongst you. Then if you disagree amongst yourselves over any issue, refer it to Allah and the Messenger ([blessings and peace be upon him] for final judgment) if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is best (for you) and best for the end result”. (04:59)
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ أَطِيعُواْ اللّهَ وَأَطِيعُواْ الرَّسُولَ وَأُوْلِي الْأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ فَإِن تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلاً
This suggests that workers should comply with the safety and health policies and procedures established by an employer in the workplace. Besides, it is narrated in Sunan Abi Dawud, 5041 that “the Prophet (ﷺ) said: If anyone spends the night on the roof of a house with no stone palisade, Allah’s responsibility to guard him no longer applies”. (Sunan Abi Dawud: 5041)
مَنْ بَاتَ عَلَى ظَهْرِ بَيْتٍ لَيْسَ لَهُ حِجَارٌ، فَقَدْ بَرِئَتْ مِنْهُ الذِّمَّةُ
In another instance, the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “If anyone spends the night on a roof without four walls and then falls down and dies then I am absolved of responsibility of him. And, if anyone sails the seas when they are turbulent and perishes then I am not responsible for him”. (Adab al Mufrad: 1194)
مَنْ بَاتَ عَلَى إِنْجَارٍ فَوَقَعَ مِنْهُ فَمَاتَ، بَرِئَتْ مِنْهُ الذِّمَّةُ، وَمَنْ رَكِبَ الْبَحْرَ حِينَ يَرْتَجُّ، يَعْنِي: يَغْتَلِمُ، فَهَلَكَ بَرِئَتْ مِنْهُ الذِّمَّةُ
This shows that workers are required to take any available protection measures in the workplace. Employers are responsible only if they have not taken measures to ensure health and safety at workplace through provision of personal protective equipment or training workers about hazards at work.