Safety and health is everyone’s business!
This was the mantra echoed by representatives of the Labour tripartite at the launch of Occupational Safety and Health Week this morning.
Held at the Accra Beach Hotel, the opening ceremony signalled the official start of the week’s activities which will be hosted under the theme Zero In On Safety. A seminar series which began today, will address a range of OSH topics, including “Food and Mental Health”, and “Promoting Safety in a Green Economy”.
Minister of Labour, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, stressed that these and other relevant issues were key to making OSH commonplace, a move which was obligatory for the sake of creating better businesses.
“There cannot be any excuses for neglecting health and safety. There are several common sense, proportionate approaches which will help businesses to succeed, and investing in positive safety and health practices is one way in making this a reality,” she said, noting that ignoring the importance of OSH could lead to loss of productivity and potentially affect the country’s attractiveness to foreign investors.
The minister explained that the Labour Department would be embarking on a safety management initiative which would positively impact operating costs, efficiency and employee morale through the application of sound safety and health principles.
“This tool, to be referred to as the voluntary Self-Management Systems Programme will include a National Safety Award Scheme. Voluntary Commitment, self-audit and a guidance document are expected to be elements of this system. Through the mechanism … private companies and the Labour Department will be better able to assess current safety and health standards.
“By using this tool, the key players in Occupational Safety and Health will be better able to identify the real health and safety issues…,” she noted.
The programme, which will feature a National Safety Awards scheme where companies are recognised for their favourable OSH performance, will not be the only effort undertaken by government. The labour minister explained that “we are in the process of developing a national policy on safety and health, with accompanying sector-specific safety guidelines”.
“At present,” Byer Suckoo added, “the department has completed a safety and health guideline for the agricultural sector… Additional sectors will be addressed in the coming months.”
She added that capacity building of safety officers was ongoing, with specialised training in industrial hygiene, ergonomics and integrated safety management strategies already completed; as well as continued focus on sharing relevant OSH information. With a two-day workshop featuring Canadian consultant James Ebida to be held this month, Byer Suckoo asserted that the Labour Department would continue to push this agenda.
As a result, the OSH theme will be given relevance in additional realms, including the operation of mobile workplaces and addressing hazards relevant to the green energy sector.