Accra, April 28, GNA - Dr Edith Clarke, Head of the Occupational and Environmental Health Unit of the Ghana Health Service, on Thursday noted that all workers were exposed to various hazards in the course of their duties and called for measures to make the work environment safe. She identified hazards at the workplace as injuries from sharp objects, slips and falls, parasitic disease like bilharzias, respiratory tract diseases from poor ventilation, poor lighting resulting in eye strain and radiation, which could lead to the development of some types of cancers.
Dr Clarke said preventive approaches needed to be adopted within workplaces and should include areas such as training in occupational health safety (OHS) and lifestyle, and policies spelling out clearly measures to be implemented for protection of workers and prevention of disease and injuries among other things.
Dr Clarke, who was addressing workers in Accra to commemorate International Workers Memorial Day, noted that this could be achieved with the utmost cooperation between employers and workers, who saw themselves as partners working to achieve a common goal. The Day initiated by the Canadian Labour Congress 21 years ago to mourn workers killed or injured on the job was accepted by the world to pay homage to colleagues, who suffered injuries, became disabled or died while at work.
It was on the theme: "Creating and Sustaining a Safety Culture." In Ghana members of the Building and Wood Workers Union converged at the TUC Hall to commemorate the Day lighting candles, singing dirges and praying for the departed. They also prayed for the injured. Dr Clarke said in developing countries including Ghana it was estimated that occupational health service was available only for five to 10 per cent of the workforce and that healthcare provided was mainly curative.
Mr Pius Quainoo, Coordinating Committee Secretary of the International Federation of Building and Wood Workers (IFBWW), called on the Government and employers to integrate sustainable development into Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) for workers and to promote all forms of decent work and welfare.
This, he said, would ensure that "we have kept our commitment as a country to integrate the three pillars of sustainable development (economics, environment and social) within public and trade union work programmes".
Mr Quainoo said the Day was to focus national attention on the promotion and creation of a preventive, safe and healthy culture at work and to help to reduce the number of work-related deaths. He noted that even with the coming into force of the new Labour Act structures and mechanisms to take occupational health safety issues to higher levels were absent.
He said non-compliance with regulations in the growing informal sector was indicative that having the best legislature did not guarantee that carnage in the world of work would stop.
Mr Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, General Secretary of the TUC, said some of the injuries and health issues occurred out of ignorance and the absence of safety gadgets.
He called on the Media to help to expose the hazards in workplaces and the setting up of safety committees at workplaces to ensure that the right thing was done to make workplaces decent and safe.