It is the responsibility of every employer to place emphasis on Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) in any work place. This is because Section 9 (c) of the Labour Act 2003, Act 651, enjoins the employer to take all practical steps to ensure that the worker is free from risk of personal injury or damage to his or her health during and in the course of the workers employment or while lawfully on the employer’s premises.
However, a high number of cases that continue to occur as a result of poor health and safety measures in organizations thus leading to injury on the job, loss of jobs, occupational related diseases and sometimes occupational deformity or deaths are not reported but may be heard on our airwaves.
But for the saying that a” sound mind lives in a sound body”, it has become important for employers and their organizations to provide the enabling environment and also put in place the necessary measures or basic things that protect the health of our workforce.
Some of the occupational health and safety measures include the provision of the requisite environment, establishing health policies and programmes and the provision of the necessary tools, equipment and safety gadgets and personal protective equipment (PPEs) such as nose masks, safety boots among others.
Recently, the Deputy Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Bright Wireko- Brobby, in pursuit of Occupational Health and Safety at the workplace, has called on organizations, especially factories, to ensure that all workers, both those in the formal and informal sectors are guaranteed Occupational Health and Safety at the Workplace.
The Deputy Minister, together with the Acting Chief Labour Officer, the Acting Chief Inspector of Factories, the Public Affairs Officers as well as some supporting staff of the Ministry are embarking on familiarization visits of some selected factories across the country.
The essence of the visits is for the Ministry to familiarize with working environment, interact with Management and Staff, ensure reasonable standards of Safety and Health of workers, promote measures that would safeguard the health and safety of persons employed within the factories, and also help advise management to take all the precautionary steps to prevent occupational accidents and diseases that arise from exposure to stress in the working environment among others.
So far Deputy Minister and his entourage have visited seven factories within the Greater Accra Region. The companies are namely MODEC Ghana, Reroy Cables, Ghana Textile Printing, Nestle Ghana Limited, Latex Foam Mattress, Niche Cocoa Industries and Fan Milk Ghana Limited.
During the visits of these workplaces, it came clear that while some of the factories are promoting and enforcing measures that would safeguard the health and safety of workers such as displaying educational materials and sign post, establishing baby friendly policies, promoting wellness through physical activity, establishing on-site health clinics, improving eating habits and reducing stress among others, others lacked basic safety standards and measures.
Some of the basic lacked safety measures identified were lack of basic Protective Personal Equipment’s (PPE’s), lack of safety measures and policies and delays in renewal of certificates of registration. There were also lack of reports and records of occupational accidents and dangerous occurrences as provided under the Factories, Offices and Shops Act.
The MELR is mandated to create decent jobs as well as ensure that all workers are protected as such. It is therefore necessary that any act of the employer against the workers should be channeled through the procedures and processes as contained in the Labour Act 2003, Act 651.
By Charlotte Hanson, PRO of Ministry of Employment & Labour Relations.