Ghana on Tuesday joined the rest of the global community to mark World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2020.
The day, being marked, on the theme “Stop the Pandemic: Safety and Health at Work can Save Lives”, looks at addressing the outbreak of infectious diseases at work, focusing on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
It aims to raise awareness on the adoption of safe practices in workplaces and the role that the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) services play.
Mr. Fredrick Ohene-Mensah, the Chief Inspector, Department of Factories Inspectorate, Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, speaking at a press conference to mark the day in Accra, said the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world of work had been very severe which includes increased unemployment and underemployment.
Other are worsened OSH and working conditions, reduced access to social protection; particularly negative effects on specific groups more vulnerable to adverse labour market outcomes.
He said the focus on safety and health at work should be to identify workers/occupations/sectors at increased risk of contagion, implement control and prevention measures based on risk assessment and disseminate information on preventive and protective measures to reduce the spread of infections, in collaboration with public health authorities.
“Risk of contagion includes contact with infectious patients and co-workers. Contact with infectious blood, tissue and bodily fluids, contact with bodies of persons who have died from highly infectious disease, contact with contaminated materials, surfaces and environments and medical equipment and personal protective equipment (PEE) not properly used, cleaned or disinfected and disposed.”
In 2013, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), began to observe World Day for Safety and Health at Work to stress the prevention of accidents and disease at work, capitalizing on the ILO’s traditional strengths of tripartism and social dialogue.
Over the years, this celebration has been an integral part of the Global Strategy on Occupational Safety and Health of the ILO.
Mr Ohene-Mensah said the World Day for Safety and Health at Work is a significant tool to raise awareness of how to make work safe and healthy and of the need to raise the political profile of occupational safety and health.
He said the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, which falls on April 28, each year was religiously celebrated by the Department of Factories Inspectorate, which is the regulator in the country.
“In the previous celebration of this day, we came together in our numbers, had seminars, socialized and undertook several activities. However, this year’s celebration has taken a new turn because of the global pandemic of the new novel coronavirus.
He recalled that on 11th March 2020, the World Organisation (WHO) declared the COVID-19 as a pandemic with fast spreading to countries.
He said governments, employers, workers, and their organisations face enormous challenges as they try to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and promote safety and health at work; adding that beyond the immediate crisis, there were also concerns about resuming activity in a manner that sustains progress made in suppressing transmission.
With regards to measures for preventing contagion, Mr Ohene-Mensah mentioned physical distance, hygiene, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
He called for the promotion of safe and decent working conditions, including the provision of PPEs and medical assistance for all workers, comprising those engaged in rescue and rehabilitation activities.
“Let’s all follow the various protocols to safeguard ourselves, families, loved ones, and the country at large,” Ohene-Mensah added.
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