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31.03.2004 General News

Woodworkers call for national policy on OHS

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Kumasi, March. 31, GNA - The Timber and Woodworkers Union (TWU), has called for a national policy on Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) to protect all those working in unsafe environments in the country. Mr Joshua Ansah, General Secretary of the Union who made the call said it was regrettable that successive governments had not given any serious attention to the issue. He was addressing the opening ceremony of a three-day national workshop on OHS and Forest Certification in Kumasi on Monday. 30 participants drawn from the Forestry Commission in all the 10 regions are attending it.

The International Federation of Building and Wood Workers (IFBWW) is sponsoring the workshop. Mr Ansah was emphatic that Ghana's present protection provisions as contained in the Factories, Offices and Shop Act 1970, were inadequate. He said it did not even cater for all sectors of employment as the forestry; agriculture, fisheries and the health services had been left out. The General Secretary of the Woodworkers said, failure to control dust nuisance for example, as had been happening in the timber industries had left a terrible legacy of suffering and disease among the workers in those places.

"Wood dust can irritate and induce allergies and this can poison and kill," he added. Mr Ansah said the Union would therefore want to see a law that would empower the its health and safety officers to order workers to stop work in an unsafe environment without waiting for permission from management. He said policy makers and employers must ensure that the provision of safe and healthy working environment became a key consideration in all investment and production decisions.

Ms Inviolata Chinyangarara, IFDWW Education Co-ordinator for Africa, said their focus was to assist trade union development and sustainable management of forest resources. She said it was for this reason that they had assisted the TWU to establish an afforestation project at Techiman in the Brong-Ahafo Region that had become a model in Africa.

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