The minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffuor-Awuah has indicated that his Ministry is developing an Occupational Health and Safety Bill which when passed, will establish an authority to regulate occupational health and safety issues at workplaces and public spaces.
According to the minister, health and safety issues are virtually relegated to the fringes at workplaces especially the informal sector and residential areas leaving indelible cost when they occur.
Speaking at the third edition of the Extractive Industry Safety conference organized by the Sekondi Takoradi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Baffuor Awuah stated that the practice cost the country several millions of Ghana cedis in workplace compensations.
He said “when an industrial accident occurs we lose valuable human capital and financial resources. In 2005 and 2016 for instance, the Labour Department had to pay a whopping GH6.7m as workman’s compensation in the formal government sector borne by the tax payer. As I speak, GH5.1m is outstanding and remains unpaid for 9 months in 2017 alone.”
“We also recorded in 2016 1096 workplace accident as against a figure of 2697 in 2015. This figure is discounted by a statistical back figure of unreported cases especially in the informal sector of the economy”.
In the light of these, the minister noted that “the ministry is working assiduously in getting the draft National Operational Health and Safety Bill approved by cabinet and passed by Parliament. This will usher in a new era of occupational health and safety and health management in Ghana. We will establish a National Occupational Health and Safety Authority which will be responsible for all OHS matters in the country”.
Mr. Baffuor-Awuah concluded that the authority “will reflect the consolidated body of all the existing OSH institutions with reformed structures. Its main aim is to pursue policy measures that prevent workplace accidents, enhancing coordination among the various wings, improve rehabilitation and enhance compensation”.
The Sekondi Takoradi Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s annual Extractive Industries Health and Safety Conference partner other international chambers of commerce to discuss matters of health and safety in the sector.
At this gathering, industry experts with deep insight to the health and safety deficits in the sector and its recommendations are assembled in a two-day conference.
The third edition saw representatives from the International Labour Organization, the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce at Geneva, industry experts locally and internationally, as well as the Sekondi Takoradi Metropolitan Chief Executive Anthony Kobina Kurentsir Sam and other local government representations.