Today is World Day for Safety and Health at Work, which calls for everyone to join in the culture of occupational health and safety.
Do we prioritise safety at work? International Labour Organisation, explains the national occupational safety and health culture, as one in which the right to a secure and healthy working environment is respected at all tiers, where governments, employers and workers actively participate in ensuring a dependable and tidy working environment through an organisation of defined rights, obligations and duties, and where the highest priority is accorded to the principle of prevention.
In 2011, at one of the conferences organised by the Makerere University College of Health Sciences, and the Uganda National Association of Community and Occupational Health, I was tasked to talk about the overview of occupational health and safety in Uganda. I spoke about Uganda’s occupational health situation, and the administration of the policies. The general feeling was that Uganda has done a good job documenting policies such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act however, employers and employees may not be well familiarised with their rights and responsibilities.
The other impression was the limited human resource for ensuring health and safety. For instance, there were merely a smattering of health inspectors and environmental health practitioners working in the occupational health and safety department, and more so, they were localised in Kampala. This prompted me to think of what happens to workers beyond Kampala.
For us to live a culture, which is sensitive to health in workplaces, my proposition is that everyone should be mindful of the dangers and hazards related to a given workplace. Employers and employees need to rethink could our workplaces expose us to physical hazards such as: high noise levels, extreme heat, fire, radiation, cuts and sharp instruments? How much of the vibrations is exposed to machine operators, and is our sitting position a risk to back problems, or could we be at risk of chemicals, such as pesticides, flammable liquids, or gases? On that point are also biological hazards such as: exposures to bacteria and viruses. Good enough, there are ways of eliminating, reducing and protecting ourselves from these hazards.
Human resource personal could also function to impede psychosocial hazards, for example by ensuring that violence or bullying does not pass at work place. In some cases, work mates or bosses have abuse employees. In observing the culture of health in our works, therefore, our cognition, belief, morals, law, customs, habits and practices, should be in line with prevention of disease and infirmity, and the provision of completeness of physical, mental and social wellbeing of all the actors.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor