A trade unionist has called for the immediate formulation of a National Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Policy to ensure workplace safety standards, especially in the oil and gas sector.
Mr Daniel Boatey, working with Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC), referred to safety at the workplace as the absence of human rights, and that “Even in the changing world we tolerate no compromise on the right to safe and healthy work”.
Mr Boatey made the call when addressing participants at the on-going 63rd Annual New Year School and Conference in Accra, at a symposium on the topic: “Role of Trades Union in the Oil and Gas Industry”.
The programme, organised by the Institute of Continuing and Distance Education of University of Ghana, provided a forum for public debate on pressing national issues and it was on the theme “One Year of Oil and Gas Production: Emerging Issues” .
Mr Boatey said it was a shame that after several years of ratifying as many as about 11 International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions on Labour, Ghana had no OHS policy to protect her workers from occupational hazards.
He said many workers had met their untimely deaths, while others had suffered and continued to suffer from diseases as a result of unsafe workplace standards.
Mr Boatey said: “Ghana can no longer afford to loose majority of her working force to workplace hazards and accidents”, and called for a unified force through collaborations and partnerships to ensure safety in the environment and around them.
He said ILO statistics indicated that globally about 3.2 million workers die annually from workplace accidents and diseases, yet many more of such deaths were not reported.
Mr Boatey stressed the need for the formulation of the policy especially as Ghana strive to become a leading oil and gas producer in the sub-region to protect the numerous employees, who would be working in the various sectors of construction, fabrication, hospitality, entertainment and mining.
He expressed worry about the fact that although many accidents and fatal deaths happened in many institutions and industries as a result of poor safety standards they were not reported.
“The continuous high toll of deaths and diseases resulting from lack of occupational safety is unacceptable,” he said.
Mr Boatey encouraged industries to develop preventive policies for issues such as HIV and AIDS and Gender for workers.
He said the GTUC was working on various strategies in areas including addressing HIV and AIDS as workplace issue which threatened productivity and therefore must be prevented through massive education for attitudinal change.
Mr Boatey said GTUC was in addition, working towards encouraging social dialogue with government and other stakeholders on safety standards.
Ms Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Environment Science and Technology, urged the School to come out with strategies to be incorporated into government policies to ensure health, safety and environmental management in the oil and gas industry in Ghana.