Timber and Woodworkers’ Union (TWU) of Ghana celebrated International Workers’ Memorial Day on 23 April with a workplace campaign at Samartex, a wood company that employs 150 workers. The campaign convinced the employer to hire a full-time Health and Safety officer.
Occupational Safety and Health Bill to be passed this year
Parliament will pass the Occupational Safety and Health (OHS) Bill into law by the end of the year as part of efforts to promote workplace health and safety.
“It is vital we acknowledge that the future of work is now with us and it behoves on us to adopt, adapt and modify the nature of work and our workplaces to stay current and compliant with the OSH standards.”
Mr Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, said this on Friday on the “World Day for Safety and Health at Work” in Accra.
The event, on the theme: “Safety and Health and the Future of Work,” was organised by the Ministry in collaboration with the Volta River Authority (VRA).
Mr Baffour-Awuah called on all stakeholders in the working environment to conform to the requisite work and health safeties, as it was crucial to the attainment of the National Medium-Term Development Objectives.
He said the world of work was changing at a faster rate, with the influx of modern technology, artificial intelligence and the Internet of things among others, which came with hazards and deficiencies.
“We cannot act oblivious about the accidents and injuries these technologies may pose to the labour force,” he said.
Mr Baffour-Awuah said social partners had demonstrated enough commitment to the promotion of OSH standards to guarantee employees’ welfare and wellbeing, adding that stakeholders must not relent on that effort.
He said the significance of safety and health at the workplace was undeniably key to the full attainment of decent work agenda in Ghana.
Mr Baffour-Awuah said although there was overwhelming evidence that certain categories of the Ghanaian workplace were exposed to occupational risks and hazards, significant strides had also been made in the administration of the OSH standards through sensitisation, advocacy, compliance and enforcement.
“It is my fervent expectation that Ghana achieves the SDGs on OSH earlier than the stipulated timeframe; a task I employ all of us to embrace, other than that, our celebration of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work will be an exercise in futility,” he said.
He said the move would require investment, research, training, skills development and capacity building because employees wanted to work in an environment where their safety could be assured.
The Minister said employers, on the other hand, were seeking men and women with demonstrated safety consciousness to hire and engage, knowing that reliable assurance of safety was a guarantee of business development.
He noted that the Government was interested in a healthy workforce that could implement its policies and programmes towards growth and sustainable development of the country.
Mr Andrew A. Tagoe, the Deputy General Secretary, General Agriculture Workers Union of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), called on the Government to develop and implement a national OSH legislation and regulation.
He said the Labour Inspectorate Division of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations must be empowered to intensify its inspection at all workplaces to ensure safety.