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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Work-related accidents and fatalities irk govt

Story by Tichaona Kurewa

WORK-related accidents remain a major cause for concern, with over 40 fatalities and above 2000 crippling injuries recorded at the workplace in the first six months of the year.

The country is reeling under undesirable occupational health statistics, which are costing the globe between four and 10 percent of the gross domestic product.

The second day of the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) Safety and Health at Work Indaba in Victoria Falls revealed that Zimbabwe has recorded 40 fatalities and above 2000 crippling injuries at the workplace between January and June this year.

“In 2018, there were 4301 injuries, of which 76 were fatal. The subsequent years showed statistics higher than the rate of 2018, except for 2020, which recorded 3528 injuries. Furthermore, in the first six months of this year (January to June 2023), we have already recorded 2240 disabling injuries, of which 30 were fatal, compared to 2554 injuries and 44 fatalities recorded in the same period last year.

“These statistics indicate a hazardous working environment and are further reflected by the Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR), an index that shows how hazardous a work environment is, which remained well above 1 for the five years, against an expected rate of less than 1 as spelt out in our National Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Policy of 2021.

“These statistics are indeed a clarion call for all stakeholders to take action to reduce occupational injuries and diseases in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Occupational Safety and Health Council (ZOSHC) aims to enhance social dialogue processes that influence implementing sustainable OSH systems and improve workplace productivity,” said the Minister of Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare, Honourable July Moyo.

ILO reminded the world to be cognisant of various global dynamics in addressing issues of occupational safety and health at the workplace.

“The world is facing significant changes including from the 4th Industrial Revolution which is bringing in new risks to the safety and health of workers. Similarly, climate change, epidemics, and pandemics (COVID-19) have transformed the occupational risk profiles and rendered renowned and past control measures ineffective.

“This magnifies the need for OSH authorities to reposition themselves and forge new partnerships, so they provide up-to-date and responsive guidance on the effective implementation of OSH management systems at enterprise levels,” said ILO Occupational safety and health specialist, Ms Peneyambeko Munkawa.

Labour and employers pledged to enhance safety and health at the workplace

“As organised labour will continue to promote and invest in efforts to enhance Occupational Safety and Health under the decent work agenda.

“This is evidenced by placing on the Fourth Decent Work Agenda Country Programme for Zimbabwe (2022 – 2026) the following priorities; employment Promotion, social Dialogue and International Labour Standards and strengthening of Social and labour protection,” said Organised Labour Representative, Ms Florence Taruvunga.

“As we continue to live through a global health crisis and face ongoing safety and health risks in the world of work, we must continue to move toward building a strong safety and health culture at all levels. We need to create more awareness of the National Policy on Occupational Safety and Health to improve on buy-in and implementation,” said the vice president of the Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe, Mr Farai Dube.

On the globe, an estimated 2.78 million workers die from occupational accidents and work-related diseases each year.

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