Experts blame occupational accidents on breach of standards



LABOUR experts from the African continent have blamed industrial accidents, injuries and diseases in work places on negligence by industrial entrepreneurs who often compromise safety standards and regulations.

Speaking during the workshop at the  African Regional Labour Administration Centre (ARLAC) on employment injury compensation schemes in Harare, Zimbabwe, a Director at the ARLAC, Daniel Neburagho, explained that the workshop was designed to equip participants with the skills and competencies for the development of legislations, policies and tools to strengthen the process for the implementation of social security measures aimed at ameliorating the suffering of workers addressing injuries and diseases involved in industrial accidents and diseases in their working life.

Neburagho hinted that the workshop was a collaboration of African Regional Labour Administration (ARLAC) and International Labour Organization (ILO) to strengthen the labour administration systems in the 19 member countries.

He recalled that ARLAC since inception in 1974 has trained a total of 7,610 officials in various fields of labour administration and related fields.

According to ILO statistics, only 33% of the global labour force is covered by law for employment injury through mandatory social insurance adding that the statistics also indicate that even when voluntary social insurance coverage and employer liability provisions are included, only 39.4% of the labour force is covered by law.

The ARLAC Director observed that in practice, actual access to employment injury protection is even lower, largely owing to poor enforcement of legislation in many countries, the majority of which are in Africa and Asia. He stressed that often times, industrial accidents, injuries and diseases occur because safety standards and regulations are compromised by industrial enterprises.

He added: “As the popular saying goes, prevention is better than cure and once adequate preventive measures are in place, it obviously reduces the incidence and liability of catering for injuries and diseases during work”.

While emphasizing the urgent need to enhance working conditions in respect of occupational safety and health, he expressed optimism that as more countries move from employer liability as the basis for employment injury protection to a mechanism based on social insurance, levels of protection for workers are likely to improve.

In another presentation, Ms. T. Jongwe, from Ghana outlined the importance of workers compensation standard adding that the occupational accidents and diseases not only harm the accident victims but also impact on their families, enterprises and communities as a whole.

She also highlighted the hidden costs associated with occupational accidents and diseases to include loss of productive time, retraining of staff and loss of sales.

Also in his presentation,  N Ncube, from Mauritius called on low and middle countries to enhance working conditions in respect of occupational safety and health, as well as improving employment injury coverage for all workers including those in the informal economy as a result of a low coverage of employment injury compensation.

Participants at the workshop were drawn from Ghana, Lesotho, Liberia, Nigeria, Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.

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