Tripartite Celebrations begin to mark World OHS Day

Tripartite representatives at the OSH Workshop In Lautoka, on your far right is Mr Rouhit Singh of FTUC.

EVENT ADDRESS  BY Mr Rouhit Karan Singh,

“Join in Building the Culture of Prevention on OSH”.

1. Representatives from International Labor Organization
2. Representatives from Ministry for Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment
3. Representative from Fiji Employers Federation
4. Invited Guests,
5. Trade Union Delegates
6. Ladies & Gentlemen
7. Brothers and Sisters

This morning I stand tall in the capacity of Assistant National Secretary of Fiji Trades Union Congress and Chief Guest to open the program in Lautoka.

I am indeed proud to state that I’m not here to represent the 30,000 or so odd trade union members but all  workers throughout Fiji.

More so, it gives me great pleasure to extend a very warm welcome from my colleagues at the Fiji Trades Union Congress.

April 28 marks a historical and a day of significance for all the workers throughout the world and FTUC is proud to be associated with this year’s celebrations to mark World Day for Safety and Health at Work.

Being one of the tripartite partners bestowed with the responsibility of ensuring and promoting safe work practices and standards, it has become very important to work towards achieving a safe work environment.

This year’s theme is “Join in Building the Culture of Prevention on OSH”.

The culture of prevention cannot be dealt in isolation and needs genuine commitment of the Government, Employers and the Workers.

Every year hundreds of workplace accidents occur.

ILO estimates that occupational accidents and work-related diseases cause over 6,300 deaths every day or 2.3 million fatalities a year. Of this huge loss, about 350,000 deaths are caused by occupational accidents and close to 2 million by work-related diseases.

Non-fatal accidents affect an even larger number – over 313 million workers are injured every year – while non-fatal work-related diseases are estimated to affect 160 million each year.

We cannot lay back and wonder about the figures. The fact remains that it’s time for us to take urgent steps collectively to reinforce our action and redouble our efforts to create safe and healthy workplaces for all workers.

Communication is a very vital tool in OSH and we need to identify and discuss new trends and prospects for promoting activities for safety and health at work, for ensuring safe working conditions and protect workers’ health.

It has been rightly stated that a successful OSH management system requires the commitment of top management to a culture of prevention, including through the allocation of sufficient resources. This includes awareness, training, maintenance, personal protective equipment’s etc.
But just as important is the participation of workers, who play a crucial role in recognizing and identifying hazards; contributing to well-informed and context specific risk assessment; planning effective preventive measures; and implementing prevention and mitigation measures.

The goal of OSH strategy is to prevent workplace death, injury and disease. But when it happens, workers and their dependents must be supported and I urge that all Employers to have adequate coverage for Workmen’s Compensation and adequate insurance.

The death and injury rate at workplace is obviously unacceptable to the union movement and one of the most important tasks for unions therefore is not only to protect their members from the hazards at their work but in broader perspective – the overall impact it may create to the family, society and the country as a whole.

And in what better way than through prevention.

Work related diseases can be prevented or decreased if all parties are committed in ensuring safety through OHS compliance.

To comply, FTUC urges all the workplace in Fiji to implement safer OHS standards, implement and support OHS Committees as per Workplace Regulations and Health and Safety at Work Act 1996 respectively and provide necessary facilities and amenities.

In addition, we urge that the Ministry of Employment and Industrial Relations to come hard on workplaces so that they fulfill the requirements in obtaining compliance certificates and as such our workers are provided with safer and better workplace with all the facilities and amenities. The governing legislations must be fully implemented and violators should be held accountable.

There are many workers around the country who have suffered or died from occupational hazards whilst in employment. Many workers have lost their jobs by reporting themselves.

Many cases have so far gone unreported which is of great concern to the Trade Union Congress.
As a deterrent, those employers failing to report on such an important issue should be immediately  prosecuted. We believe that to ensure that workers are safe and provided with a disease-free environment while they are at work, the co-operation and understanding of all tripartite partners is equally important and more so very vital.

Today, whilst we discuss this important subject, I hope that progress is made on a joint approach towards an appropriate and applicable OHS management system as a model for Fiji workplace situations. Being a NOHSAB member gives me satisfaction to contribute for the betterment of the workers in Fiji.

The Congress calls on governments, employers and all organizations to collaborate in the development and implementation of national policies and effective strategies aimed at preventing occupational and work-related diseases.

We don’t want to lose our fellow workers due to others negligence.
We pay heavily for the loss of productivity and economic waste as employees fall sick. Much has been written about the cost of industrial expenses but few attempts have been made to assess it accurately.

We only capture incidence of those who are in working life. What happens to those who retire and die of diseases which may have been contracted due to his occupation.

Finally, I wish to emphasize again that proper implementation and monitoring of workplace standards is crucial.

Effective control is the best way to ensure effective implementation!

This is the only way forward in Building on the culture of Prevention on OSH.

Just to draw your attention, Lautoka City Council has partnered with ILO and JICA to promote WARM (Work Adjustment in Recycling and Waste Management). The program focuses to develop and improve safety, health and working conditions of waste collectors in Fiji. WARM is designed for promoting aactive cooperation between waste collectors, community, and other stakeholders to make waste collection safer and more efficient through participatory and action-oriented approach.

I am indeed blessed to be trained as a Trainer to promote the WARM program in Fiji and the region.

I wish all of you present here today a fruitful OHS Day and hope you will execute your roles and responsibilities with due diligence to help us prevent occupational diseases and ensure better and higher productivity.

We need a collaborative approach and I’m very optimistic that together we can make our workplace a healthier and safer one.

May God Shower his blessing to all the workers in Fiji and in the world at large.

Vinaka Vakalevu!
Thank You and Dhanyabaad
Rouhit Karan Singh
Assistant National SecretaryFiji Trades Union Congress