Ninety-two workplace accidents in January, two fatal
Safety awards to be presented
April 4, 2003
There were ninety-two workplace accidents in Guyana in January, two of them fatal, and Labour Minister Dale Bisnauth says vigilance has to be shown against the attitude of employers in some countries that it is cheaper to replace a sick or dead worker than invest in safety equipment.
A significant new feature of this country’s observance of Occupational Safety and Health Month this April is the introduction of the National Occupational Safety and Health Awards Scheme, Bisnauth has announced.
This scheme has been initiated by the NACOSH - the National Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health - in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, Minister Bisnauth said in an address to mark the month’s observance.
“The purpose of this awards programme,” he said, “is to recognise and reward organisations that demonstrate a commitment to corporate safety and health, and a determination to achieve lower accident rates in their industry.”
And to qualify for an award, industries will be required to provide written and verifiable proof of their commitment to workplace safety and health.
Bisnauth said that April has been designated as Occupa-tional Safety and Health Month “in order that we may be more in line with what is happening internationally.”
But like other member states of the International Labour Organisation, Guyana has identified April 28 as the commemoration day for those workers who have been injured or killed by their jobs or at the workplace, Bisnauth explained.
The theme under which this year’s activities will be organized is: “Promoting a Safe and Healthy Culture at Work”. The activities include workshops, seminars and training programmes.
Kicking off the programme of activities on Tuesday was a tripartite meeting on HIV/ AIDS awareness at the workplace which was to be sponsored by the Ministry of Health.
The labour minister noted in his address that internationally, agriculture ranks as the most hazardous of occupations with mining running a close second and forestry not too far behind. Underscoring the need for Guyana to be concerned, he said that “these are occupations which employ a preponderating proportion of our workforce, hence the need for care in this country where, in January alone, we have had 92 workplace accidents, two of which were fatal.
Bisnauth urged that “reducing the toll of occupational accidents and diseases, or to put it positively, the development of a culture of safety and health at the workplace, must be a major preoccupation of all of us - government, employers, workers and the public at large.”
The ILO, he observed, estimates that internationally, there are annually two million work-related deaths of which about 80 percent could be prevented if all ILO member states were to insist on the use of the best available (and afforable) accident prevention equipment, strategies and practices.
Bisnauth further pointed out that there are about 250 million work-related but non-fatal accidents annually, and about 160 million cases of illness, much of which could also be prevented if the working environment were to be improved radically, in some cases minimally, and if the necessary precautions are taken by employers and workers alike.