Passage of Occupational Health and Safety Bill necessary — Prof. Akosa
A former Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Prof. Agyeman Badu Akosa, has urged stakeholders to work to ensure the passage of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Bill to protect the safety of people at workplaces.
He said the passage of the bill would also ensure that fragmented policies and framework on health and safety across the board were put together to achieve a common purpose.
"We know that there has been a draft on it for a very long time which the Trades Union Congress has been pushing but there are turf wars agencies that have fragmented health and safety policies are pushing in the wrong direction and not supporting the passage of a harmonised policy.
"This is not good for the country.
We should prioritise the safety of the people, that is the most important thing," Prof. Akosa said, adding that the time had come for stakeholders to shelve their parochial interests and work for a common OHS law.
The pathologist was speaking at a three-day workshop on occupational health and safety organised by the Ensign Global College, a private institution, in Accra yesterday.
Participants were drawn from state institutions, including security agencies, faith-based organisations and insurance companies, among others.
They discussed topics such as the importance of health and safety at the workplace, leadership essentials in environmental and occupational health and safety, as well as the global state of health and safety and what it meant for the country.
Currently, there are many industry-specific health and safety policies in the country. Some of these policies are Factories, Offices and Shops Act (1970), Act 328; Mining Regulations, 1970 (L.I 665); Mining and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703) – Regulations (2012); Workman’s Compensation Law, 1987 (PNDC L187; Radiation Protection Instrument, 1993 (L.I 1559).
Prof. Akosa expressed concern about the fragmentation of the policy, saying it was inimical to the safety of workers as there was no coordination and strict oversight of the policy.
"Regulation should be done by an independent body because the agency that is operational cannot regulate itself well,” he said.
The former Director-General further underscored the need for organisations to strengthen their health and safety departments and also provide risk assessment reports to guide their operations.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MODEC Production Services Ghana JV Limited (MPSG), a service provider in offshore oil and gas industry, Theophilus N. Ahwireng, described the efforts being made to get a legislation for OHS as a step in the right direction.
He, however, said that while efforts were being made to get the law, more attention must be given to public education and awareness creation about the need for health and safety policies at workplaces.
For his part, the President of Ensign Global College, Prof. Stephen C. Alder, said given that health and safety was crucial for quality workforce, the college would work with other institutions to train more safety officers.