Proposed Occupation Health and Safety Authority unnecessary – Labour Institute

The Labour Rights Institute, a non-governmental organization (NGO), has said proposal by the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare to establish an occupation health and safety authority to deal with occupational health and safety issues, was unnecessary.

The NGO said the reported marginalization of the Factory Inspectorate Department and the Labour Department as the Ministry’s reason for the proposed creation of the authority was unacceptable.

A statement signed by Mr Mohammed Affum, Executive Coordinator of the Institute, copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Sunday, said instead of establishing a new organization with the same functions as the Factory Inspectorate Division and Labour Department, the Ministry should resource the two bodies  to carry out their statutory mandates of protecting the rights of workers.

It asked “What is the guarantee that the proposed authority will not be marginalized to the extent that, perhaps, a commission will be proposed to be set up ?,” and said establishing another bureaucracy is not the solution.

According to the statement, the Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, Mr. Antwi Boasiako Sekyere, recently announced the planned establishment of the authority during a visit to some industries in Tema where industrial accidents had occurred with casualties.

It alleged that the two departments under the Minister had been marginalized, hence their ineffectiveness.

The statement asked: “Who marginalized the departments, which were responsible for supervising industrial relations, labour exchange, terms and conditions of employment, and ensuring occupational health and safety of workers?

It said the consistent inadequacy and under resource of the two departments was evident by the lack of staff and vehicles to carry out inspections as well as the dilapidated offices in Accra and its regional capitals.

The statement noted that the Ministry only felt the importance of the Factory Inspectorate Directorate in the case of industrial accidents that result in loss of lives and injuries by visiting accident sites in the full glare of media publicity.

“Such accidents could have been avoided if the Directorate were fully resourced to carry out its functions of regular inspections and directing employers to take actions to avert the danger or threat of danger to the health and safety of workers,” it said.

The statement said the Labour Department also suffered acute neglect in terms of human and material resources to conduct inspections to ensure that the terms and conditions of employment of workers conformed to the provisions of the Labour Act.

“It is this failure of the Department to perform its duties that allows some employers to impose on workers contracts of employment that are in flagrant violations of workers’ rights provided for in the Labour Act,” it said.

Source: GNA

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