Committee urges speedy approval of Occupational Safety and Health policy

Oil_mine workersThe National Steering Committee on Employee Health and Well-Being Programmes (NEHAWP) has called on President John Mahama to ensure a speedy approval of the Occupational Safety and Health policy to create a safe environment and protection for workers.

Dr Edith Clarke, Chairperson NEHAWP, who made the call at media launch of World Day of Safety and Health at Work, said a policy followed by a quick enactment of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act would contribute to increasing productivity as other economies had shown.

“As a country, we need a paradigm shift in our understanding of what the workplace can offer. Apart from the economic benefits as well as personnel and career development opportunities, the workplace has turned out to be a place where death, injuries, disease and ill health can be acquired,” she said.

World Day of Safety and Health at Work, which is held on April 28 each year, was instituted by the International Labour Organisation and its member countries since 2003 to focus attention on promoting and creating decent and safe work.

The theme for this year’s celebration in Ghana is: “Prevention of Occupational Diseases and Injuries-Whose Responsibility Is It?”

Dr Clarke said while there were pieces of legislations dealing with OSH on the country’s statute books, legislative, administrative and enforcement constraints rendered their implementation difficult.

“The current OSH laws are limited in scope and coverage, and have not kept pace with international development,” she said, adding that there were areas of inconsistency and definitions that did not address occupational diseases.

Besides, the implementing bodies have limited capacity to develop and implement a comprehensive national safety and health policy.

There is also fragmentation in enforcement effort, overlapping areas of responsibility, absence of coordination and differences in approach among the institutions.

To address these challenges, Dr Clarke said, a quick cabinet approval of the draft OSH policy would ensure that the country had an Act in line with international standards.

She called on all stakeholders, including employers, civil society, academia and the public to support efforts to ensure the successful implementation of OSH in the country.

Dr Kwesi Amponsah-Tawiah, Lecturer, Department of Organization and Human Resource Management of the University of Ghana Business School, said the media seemed to relegate health and safety practice to the background.

He said although media personnel were constantly exposed to danger in the performance of their duties, there was no occupational Health and Safety Code or Standards for the media.

Dr Amponsah-Tawiah called for workshops and programs to train media personnel in OSH to enhance knowledge of health and safety issues in their various work places.

Source: GNA

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