Manual on Occupational Health Safety and Environment launched

WorkersMr Andrews Addoquaye Tagoe, Head of Programmes, Training and Education of the General Agricultural Workers Union, has stressed the need for employers to reduce incidences that led to fatal accidents at workplaces.

He said statistics had shown that at every 15 seconds about 160 workers worldwide, both in the formal and informal sectors, lost their lives through occupational accidents and over 300,000 people got various degrees of injuries annually.

Mr Tagoe was speaking at the launch of Occupational Health, Safety and Environment (OHS&E) Manual and Child Labour Strategic Document in Accra.

The manual was to promote the knowledge and uptake of the basics of child labour and OHS&E in cocoa farming communities.

It was produced by the International Labour Organisation’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (ILO-IPEC) in collaboration with the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) of GTUC as one of IPEC’s strategies in working with workers’ representatives and employers’ organisations to help ensure that work was safe for all.

It would serve as an essential training tool for workers in the rural communities, especially farmers, to promote and ensure safety at the workplace.

The 171-page manual is in three modules: Child Labour and Hazardous Work in Ghana’s Cocoa Farms; Hazards and Control Measures in Cocoa Production, and Protecting the Health and Well-Being of Children and Farmers.

Mr Tagoe said agriculture was the third hazardous occupation beyond mining and construction, yet little attention was paid to occupational safety and health of those in that sector.

He said OHS&E gaps in cocoa communities involving adults, children and young ones was as a result of the haste to increase production.

“Because our farmers are in haste to increase their yield they do not pay attention to OHS&E measures and this creates room for incidences leading to fatal accidents and injuries at workplaces,” he said.

He said the manual targeted mainly the cocoa sector and was designed to help the trainers to plan and run activities with farmers and children above the minimum age for work in cocoa farming.

Mr Tagoe said they hoped to use the manual to reduce OHS&E injuries and accidents from its current rate of 49 per cent to 20 per cent and also train trainers in 100 cocoa communities in the near future.

Mr Edward Kareweh, Acting General Secretary of GAWU, said the production of the farmer friendly manual fitted the new generation of ILO-IPEC projects on; “Child Labour Free Cocoa Communities through Integrated Area-Based Approach in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana” (Cocoa Communities Project-CCP).

“In our bid to adopt an integrated area based approach to the elimination of child labour and promote decent work for both adults and children of legal working age in Ghana, one of the components worth considering is ensuring the increase in productivity of our rural based farmers and other agricultural workers by promoting the best and safe practices of work that inherently leads to increase productivity as a healthy worker is an asset,” he said.

He said hazardous work could have immediate and long-term impact such as injury, disability and even death on children.

Mr Kareweh said: “Children and adolescents are specifically vulnerable to the effects of hazardous work because they are still developing physically and mentally. Exposure of children to dangerous chemicals or physical stress can also harm their proper and healthy development.

“Some of the physical or psychological impacts of hazardous work may not be obvious immediately, but only begin to appear at a later stage in their lives.”

Mr Joseph Amenowode, Chairman of Parliamentary Select Committee on Social Welfare and State Enterprises, who officially launched the manual, urged labour unions to work closely with the various select committees in Parliament to enhance their capacities.

He announced that Ghana is the chair of the newly commissioned West African Parliamentarians against Child Labour and they would soon be organising their maiden meeting in Accra.

Mr Amenowode, Member of Parliament for Hohoe South, commended ILO-IPC and GAWU for putting together the manual and urged them to make copies available to Parliament.

Source: GNA

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