Editorial: Pay urgent attention to National Occupational Safety and Health bill

Photo: Workplace-accidents. Credit: Machine Accident Lawyer

Chief Inspector in Charge of Factories at the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, Fred Ohene Mensah, is calling on industry to push and make noise about the National Occupational Safety and Health Bill that is presently before Cabinet.

The National Occupational Safety and Health bill is still languishing at Cabinet-level after more than 30 years. First introduced to Cabinet in 1989, the bill has appeared twice at the subcommittee level of Cabinet but is yet to move from Cabinet to lawmakers in Parliament.

Last year, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr. Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, said on the ‘World Day for Safety and Health at Work’ that Parliament will pass the Occupational Safety and Health (OHS) bill into law b end of the year

As the country gradually becomes an industrial nation, the development will expose a large percentage of the workforce to health and safety hazards at the workplace.

The Labour Department of Ghana’s Annual report (2000) gave a total of 8,692 work-related accidents reported to the Department for compensation claims. Industrial or occupational accidents can have, and in fact, do, have a great effect on the mental health of victims as well as others who witness the incident.

Currently, Ghana does not have a national policy on occupational health and safety management as the ILO convention number 155 (1981) requires. This is crucial and must not linger, hence we understand the call by the Chief Inspector in Charge of Factories in corporate Ghana to push the government to make health and safety a security factor.

Though the Factories, Offices and Shops Act 1970, (Act 328), the Mining Regulations 1970 (LI 665) and the Labour Act 2003 (Act 561) have some regulations about health and safety management in the work environment.

This can be considered not detailed enough since it does meet the requirements of a comprehensive bill that seeks to promote a safe work environment for all stakeholders. There is a need for a national policy to direct handling of health and safety at the workplace, to ensure that the work environment is free as much as possible from undesirable elements.

Numerous injuries, illnesses, property damages and process losses take place at different workplaces, but because of under-reporting or misclassification due to lack or thorough standards, or unfamiliarity with the existing guidelines, people are not normally in the know of such events – or their actual or potential consequences.

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