GAWU calls for swift action on OSH policy

BY: Emmanuel Bruce

The General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) has urged the government to expedite action on the National Occupational, Safety and Health (OSH) policy which is currently before Cabinet.

Among other things, the policy seeks to define the goals, guidelines and responsibilities in ensuring safety at the work place.

Ghana as a nation with six decades of existence still has no national OSH policy that applies to all workplaces where any person is engaged permanently or temporarily

The closest one can think of is the Factories, Offices and Shops Act 1970, (Act 328) but with various weaknesses and perhaps require huge modification to meet changing times and international requirements and standards.

In 2000, a draft national policy/bill was formulated but the process for its finalisation and adoption had been slow or there has not been any remarkable progress in this regard.

The GAWU, which said they have been pushing for the adoption of this policy in the country since 2000, believed it was time for the government to give it the needed attention.

The union believes when adopted, the OSH policy will help ratify the ILO convention 155 which also seeks to prevent accidents and injury to health arising out of, linked with or occurring in the course of work.

Political will

The Deputy General Secretary of the union, Mr Andrews Addoquaye Tagoe, made the call on behalf of the union at a stakeholders meeting in Accra.

The programme is being funded the BUSAC Fund with support from DANIDA and USAID.

He said one of the key barriers in ratifying the convention was the political will after a broader consultation and engagement of stakeholders early in the policy conception of the draft bill.

He said in 2000, a draft national policy was formulated but the process for its finalisation and adaptation had been slow.

He called on all to support the union to push the government to pass the bill before Parliament to ensure the health and safety of workers.

Poor cohesion

A Research Fellow, who was part of a team to conduct a research on the barriers to the national OSH policy adoption and ratification of ILO convention 155 in Ghana, Mr Suleman Nurudeen, said the need for a national policy was necessary because of poor cohesion and collaboration among statutory OSH departments.

He said regulations that existed were poorly enforced due to conflicting and overlapping functions of these departments and change of governments.

Mr Nurudeen,therefore, advised GAWU to make a conscious effort to build relationships with stakeholders and gain support from a wide range of policy makers.

The Chief Labour Officer, Mr Eugene Narh Korletey, for his part said the government had put in place institutional arrangements to get the bill passed.

He said the government was examining the bill and was optimistic that it would be presented to the ILO for discussions and passed it into law to regulate the safety of workers.