By Afedzi Abdullah
Cape Coast, April 30, GNA - Health and Safety Ghana (HSG), a Non-Governmental Organisation into occupational health, safety and environmental management, has called for a comprehensive occupational health and safety policy to promote safe, healthy and decent work at the workplace.
The policy framework, the NGO said, must allow for the establishment of an independent authority with the mandate to develop safe and healthy environmental standards and enforce compliance in all sectors of industry.
A press release signed by the President of HSG, Mr Francis Dzifa Ahadzi, and copied to the Ghana News Agency, to commemorate this year’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work, bemoaned the absence of a comprehensive policy on occupational health and safety and a national agency to govern occupational health, and safety in Ghana.
Again, Ghana did not have a credible data on health and safety issues, thereby making it difficult to track the number of work related accidents.
The statement said even the legislations and regulations that existed were only in pieces and sector focused, some of which were outmoded and did not conform to international standards and, therefore, could not be enforced across board.
“Many workers are facing greater pressure to meet the demands of modern working life, psychosocial risks such as increased competition, higher expectations on performance and longer working hours are contributing to the workplace becoming an ever more stressful environment and the lines separating work from life are becoming more and more difficult to identify,” the statement said.
It said having a comprehensive policy on occupational health and safety would help reduce operational risks associated with all occupations, keep workers safe and also protect the ecosystem from being contaminated with harmful pollutants.
Majority of Ghana’s legal provisions on Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) were limited in scope as many industries, including agriculture, and most informal sectors were specifically not covered, the statement said.
The Factories, Offices and Shops Act 1970, Act 328 and the Mining Regulations 1970 LI 665 which have driven OHS implementation in the manufacturing, shipping and mining sectors till now require huge modifications.
The Workmen’s Compensation Law 1987as well as the Environmental Protection Agency Act 490, 1994 together with the Ghana Health Service and Teaching Hospitals Act 526, 1999, all required huge modifications to meet international requirements and standards, it said.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) says about two million men and women lose their lives through accidents and diseases linked to their work annually.
In addition there are 270 million occupational accidents and 160 million occupational diseases recorded every year, amounting to US$ 2.8 trillion in costs for lost working time and expenses for treatment, compensation and rehabilitation.
“It is against this background that the ILO since 2003 set April 28 of every year aside to observe the World Day for Safety and Health at Work to campaign for safe, healthy and decent work at the work place,” the statement said.
The theme for this year’s celebration, which fell on Wednesday, April 28, was “Workplace Stress: a Collective Challenge”.