World Day for Safety & Health at Work

Far Right, FTUC Assistant National Secretary, Mr Rouhit Karan Singh

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 this year’s theme.

The theme is “Optimize the Collection and Use of OSH Data”.

The ILO’s campaign for the 2017 World Day for Safety and Health at Work focuses on the critical need for countries to improve their capacity to collect and utilize reliable occupational safety and health (OSH) data.

The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted on September 25, 2015 encompasses a global plan of action with specific targets to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. With its adoption, the capacity to collect and utilize reliable OSH data has also become indispensable for countries to fulfill their commitment to implement and report on some of the agenda’s 17 sustainable
Development goals and its targets
.
Every year there are more than 330 million work-related accidents worldwide, even counting just those resulting in an absence of more than 4 days. A total of 2.4 million people die every year as a result of unsafe or unhealthy workplace conditions. Worldwide, this causes a loss of 4 per cent of global GDP. In the last four years, Fiji recorded five- thousand six- hundred and seventy- four work related injuries and thirty workplace related deaths.

With these global and local trends on work-related diseases and its impact and as such the subject cannot be dealt in isolation but needs genuine commitment of the Government, Employers and the Workers.

Speech by FTUC Assistant National Secretary, Mr Rouhit Karan Singh

Sustainable Development Goal 8, in particular, provides for the promotion of “inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all” and it focuses on the “protection of labour rights and promotion of safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious (dangerous) employment.”

Occupational safety and health (OSH) is a cross-disciplinary area concerned with protecting the safety, health and welfare of people engaged in work or employment. The goals of occupational safety and health programs include fostering a safe and healthy work environment. OSH may also protect co-workers, family members, employers, customers, and many others who might be affected by the workplace environment.

It’s time for us to strategize and take urgent steps collectively to reinforce our actions and redouble our efforts to and healthy workplaces for all workers.

The workers in Fiji are blessed especially those who are employed in the formal sector. The Health and Safety at Work 1996 protects all the workers.

To comply, FTUC urges all the workplace in Fiji to create safe and healthy environment with other enabling and supportive structures so that all stakeholders are at ease whilst performing their duties which has provisions, roles and responsibilities of all tripartite partners to fulfill. The law recognizes trade union movement’s to represent their members. This is the entry point for us to protect our workers’ rights.

Having said that, there are Regulations made to effectively comply with the governing laws. This Regulation gives regulatory requirements for the establishment of Health and Safety Committee where an employer has more than 20 workers.

1. OHSF 1-Workplace Injury and Disease Notification Form
This OHSF1 Form is a simple designed form which notifies the Ministry of Employment of any accident which occurs at workplace with Employer and workers detail along with the details of injury or disease.[Section 26]

2. OHSF 2- Record of Accident and Other Matters
This OHSF-2 Form is kept by the Employer which records the personal data of injurd person and the details of the accident and disease.[Section 28]

The trade unions worry is those workers who are in informal economy such as fishing, diving, agriculture, self-employed; women’s and those who are least represented and are vulnerable. The question is that whether we have enough coverage and mechanisms to collect data on OSH injuries and accidents from these sectors!!!

Fiji being one of ILO convention ratifying member States has to establish mechanisms to collect and utilize reliable OSH data for prevention purposes. The coverage and scope of collection is to see that all workers fall under one system of reporting and data is received by the Ministry.

At this juncture I on behalf of FTUC welcome the move by the Government to carryout audit in mining as the workers are at risk which has led to accidents AND EVEN DEATH RECENTLY.

These ILO instruments recognize that the collection and utilization of reliable OSH data are indispensable for the detection of new hazards and emerging risks, the identification of hazardous sectors, the development of preventive measures, as well as the implementation of policies, systems and programmes at international, national and enterprise levels.

OSH data provide the basis for setting priorities and measuring progress.

WHY OPTIMIZE THE COLLECTION AND USE OF DATA?

1. All over the world it is widely accepted that there is a huge economic benefit to be gained from improved safety and health in the workplace and a reduction in occupational accidents and diseases. In order to achieve this benefit, there is a need for a better knowledge of the true situation of safety and health in the workplace at the enterprise, industry and national levels in order to take the right decisions. Effective risk assessment and control at the workplace require accurate and reliable accident and disease data.

2. In many countries-national systems for reporting, data collection and analysis are often very poor and do not reflect the real safety and health situation in the country because accidents and diseases are reported more or less by chance.

In addition, we urge that the Ministry of Employment and Industrial Relations to effectively and efficiently implement the provisions of legislations such as ERP 2007, Health and Safety Act 1996 and subsidiary legislations, Workman Compensation Act for betterment of all workers in Fiji.

We workers of Fiji have lot of faith and trust in the Ministry as it is the focal point to record accidents, collect data and rightly utilize it. A cost benefit analysis will show why data collection is important.

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 that changes the mindset of all tripartite partners in realizing the importance of “optimizing the collection and use of OSH data” and how to manage with it.

But how can we improve this situation? Prevention is the key. Effective prevention driven by all stakeholders reduces occupational accidents and diseases, improves product quality and the economic performance of enterprises and national economies. Effective prevention makes companies more successful and saves lives. This is why, all over the world, prevention is becoming more of a focus for governments, political decision makers, economic leaders and managers, social partners and all stakeholders of society.

Being on NOHSAB gives me satisfaction to contribute for the betterment of the workers in Fiji. The trade union calls on governments, employers, workers and their organizations to collaborate in the development and implementation of national policies and effective strategies aimed at optimizing the collection and use of OSH data.

Finally, I wish to emphasize again that proper implementation and monitoring of workplace standards is crucial. The Labour Inspectors are to be visible. Your inspection once 3 months’ in a workplace with little advice on improvements will make a lot of difference and save many workers from health and safety hazards.

Effective control is the best way to ensure effective implementation. This is the only way forward.

I wish all of you a fruitful OHS Day and hope you will execute your roles and responsibilities with due diligence to help us optimizing the collection and Use of OSH Data 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. I urge you to achieve the maximum through the day’s participation and take back the knowledge as advocates to protect your fellow workers and the organization for productive and safe Fiji.

The trade union wants to achieve that “Every worker has the right to return from work unharmed every day…”

FTUC Assistant National Secretary:  Rouhit Karan Singh