Every year, on April 28, ILO’s World Day for Workplace Safety and Health is observed to encourage the global prevention of workplace accidents and diseases. The topic for this year’s events is “Let’s act together to develop a positive safety and health culture.” The topic is broad and can lend itself to multiple interpretations. However, here we will address our local context.
The pandemic has taught us that effective Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) systems are required across all sectors, whether public or private. A strong OSH culture in the workplace is one in which both Management and Workers recognize and support the right to a safe and healthy working environment.
COVID-19 forced many safety protocols upon us which we should have been adopting as a matter of course. Frequent hand washing, proper cough and sneeze etiquette and the proper use of a mask, especially when ill should have already formed a part of all safe cultures.
We also learned that it takes a combined effort to fight an enemy greater than ourselves. Government should not be seen as the only relevant partner in workplace safety. In fact, Employers and Workers must work together to build a safe culture in organizations since both are affected when an injury occurs at work. Workers must be encouraged to express their concerns about potential OSH risks or hazards in the workplace, and Management must be proactive in working to identify suitable, effective, and long-term solutions.
So far, we have all played a part in keeping our workplaces safe and healthy. However, in order to foster a more positive safety and health culture, effective social dialogue between Governments and Social Partners who will actively participate in all stages of OSH decision-making processes is required. This would allow for ownership of outcomes by all stakeholders who work together to improve OSH policies and strategies. There is no better way to ensure commitment whilst simplifying implementation!
It is our earnest desire to see all Social Partners continue to work together as we establish a strong safety and health culture even in the face of the global health crisis and the persistent OSH threats which the crisis brings to the world of work.
This year, the Labour Department will engage in capacity building exercises for the staff commencing April 26 and culminating on April 28. We encourage one and all to embrace this year’s theme as your own and truly seek to work together to build a positive safety and health culture today!