Government wants a healthy  environment for all workers Minister Moyo (seated middle) and social partners at the NSSA SHAW conference in Victoria Falls

Leonard Ncube[email protected]

GOVERNMENT is committed to addressing occupational health and safety issues in the workplace to ensure a healthy environment for all workers, which is crucial for implementation of the country’s development goals towards Vision 2030, a Cabinet minister has said.

Officially opening the 60th National Social Security Authority (NSSA) annual national conference on safety and health at work (SHAW) here yesterday, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister, July Moyo, said social protection, human capital development and decent work are some of the priorities of the Second Republic as it implements the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) 2021-2025).

Minister Moyo said the Government was implementing a number of measures including crafting the requisite legislation to ensure safe working conditions for workers and urged employers to make sure their premises are non-hazardous.

With a focus on safety and healthy as fundamental principles of a standard workplace, this year’s conference seeks to enhance business growth through adherence to good occupational safety and health practices.

“I want to reaffirm Government’s commitment to addressing OSH issues as we thrive to achieve the upper middle-income society as a nation by 2030,” said Minister Moyo.

“This will enhance the competitiveness of our nation and well-being of our workers. I, therefore, urge you to create safe and healthy work environments that are conducive to our well-being and prosperity as a nation.”

He said the Government has scaled up development of OSH legislation and crafting of a new OSH Bill is underway.

Some of the pieces of legislation being worked on include Major Hazard Installation Regulation, which will be based on the ratified Convention 174 on prevention of major industrial accidents. Others are; the Control of Chemical Agents Hazardous to Health Regulation, and Control of Exposure to Lead Regulation, which will be based on ratified convention 161, 170 and 162 on occupational health services, and safety in the use of chemicals and asbestos.

The Government has ratified six major OSH conventions on occupational health services and plans are underway to ratify another on promotional framework.

The conventions, Minister Moyo said, are important OSH instruments to provide robust guidance on sustainable improvements towards realisation of safe and healthy work environments.

Minister Moyo said provisions of these conventions will be found in the new Bill as the Government domesticates the International Labour Organisation conventions.

The minister, however, said while asbestos has serious dangerous effects in many countries, Zimbabwe is on the safe side as the local asbestos is the non-dangerous long fibre.

He said the Government will speed up the crafting of the Bill and commended social partners in the OSH field, calling on all sectors to internalize the Bill, OSH policy and International Labour Organisation conventions and recommendations as Government commits itself to ensure all instruments are implemented fully both at law and practice.

Minister Moyo said employers and workers have the responsibility to ensure creation of safe and healthy working environments and to participate in the implementation of preventive measures.

“To that end, organisations are encouraged to incorporate provisions of these instruments in their OSH governance systems such that even as the new law comes into effect, organisation will be well ahead of the expectations of the Government,” he said.

“This will lead to development of an effective national OSH system that encompasses making effective OSH laws, systems on inspection and programmes to ensure safe and healthy work environments.” 

Minister Moyo said the OSH has become a corporate governance issue that should be incorporated into main governance structures. During the meeting it emerged that a total of 4 301 injuries and 76 deaths were recorded in 2018 and between January and June this year, 2 240 disabling injuries and 30 fatalities have been recorded compared to 2 554 injuries and 44 deaths during the same period last year.

With significant cases of workplace accidents recorded in the country especially in the past five years where thousands of workers have been injured, Minister Moyo said the statistics are a clarion call for stakeholders to take action to reduce injuries and fatalities and diseases at the workplace.  The conference ends today with an awards ceremony to organisations and individuals that have championed OSH in the workplace.

Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo whose speech was read on his behalf said OSH practices are a critical component of the economy as this also affects communities.-@ncubeleon 

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