By Justina Paaga/ Crossland Asante Agyeman, GNA
Takoradi, Sept. 13, GNA - Mr Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, has said urgent measures are required to address the stress levels of workers.
He said though a number of physical structures were being put in place to avoid workplace accidents much has not been done to address stress levels of workers which could result in emotional accidents.
The Minister said poor working conditions in many work places in the country as a whole have resulted in the creation of huge decent work deficits particularly in the informal sector which employs about 88 percent of the labour force.
Mr Baffour-Awuah said this at the fourth Ghana Extractive Industry Safety Conference (GEISCO) organised by the Sekondi-Takoradi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (STCCI) in Takoradi under the theme: “Handling of Dangerous Goods: Global Standards and Existing Practices in Ghana”.
The occasion was also used to launch the change of name from Ghana Extractive Industry Safety Conference (GEISCO) to Ghana Industry Safety Conference (GHISCON).
The change of name is to broaden the scope of the conference beyond the extractive sector to encompass other occupational health and safety issues in general.
The two –day conference was attended by stakeholders from the Extractive Industry, Environmental Protection Agency, Ghana Aviation Authority, Nuclear Regulatory Authority, Occupational Safety and Health Association, International Labour Organization (ILO) and Financial Institutions.
The goal was to among others educate them to take concrete and significant steps towards building a health and safety culture paradigm that is proactive and holistic in nature.
Mr Baffour-Awuah said safety and health concerns within the extractive industry would remain a national priority, noting that the discovery of oil and gas in commercial quantities and its production since late 2010 has also added much impetus to the pursuit of the country’s development.
The Minister said the workmen compensation from the labour department covering 2015 to 2017 was a cause for discomfort to both policy makers and industry players, adding that the Mining and Quarry sub-sector recorded 552 accidents in 2015 of which 550 resulted in incapacity, while two were fatalities with electricity /gas and water recording 218 cases of which 216 were incapacity and two fatal cases.
He said in 2016 Mining and Quarry recorded 62 cases of incapacity and one fatal incident, while electricity /gas and water recorded 219 cases with one fatal case, and that in 2017, mining and quarry recorded eight cases resulting in incapacity, while electricity/gas and water got 368 incapacity cases with two deaths.
Mr Baffour-Awuah said the cases have been reported for claims at the labour department were on the unacceptable high side and the industry must find ways to reduce the numbers.
Mr Ato Van-Ess, Chairman of the Sekondi-Takoradi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said with GEISCON’s increasingly high status as the biggest conversion for Occupation Safety and Health (OHS) awareness and competence building in Ghana, STCCI was pleased to celebrate the ushering in of Ghana industry safety conference (GHISCON).
He said Regulatory Agencies in the country were under resourced to carry out their respective mandate, noting that, “the inability of these agencies to perform their oversight responsibilities and strictly enforce compliance at their respective sectors has brought untold hardships, pain and suffering”.
“There are too many conditions and accidents that have happened recently in Ghana that calls for collective action and many of these tragedies are preventable through the implementation of sound prevention, inspection and reporting practices”.
He called for the establishment of a Safety and Health Authority and called for the creation of a fund to support SMEs to build a sustainable Occupation Safety Health culture and management system in the country.