Expedite passage of Occupational Safety and Health Bill – Association

Fri, 16 Jul 2021 Source: GNA

The Occupational Health, Safety and Environment Association (OSHA) UK-Ghana Region, has urged the government to expedite the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Bill (OHS) into law to promote workplace health and safety.

The Bill, which is currently before the cabinet, has been in and out of Parliament for the past six years.

Mr Kwamina Amoasi Andoh, the Chairman of the Advocacy Committee at OSHA, UK-Ghana Region, said the government must fast-track the process to allow for ample time for Parliament to deliberate and pass the Bill into law.

He made the call when the Association conferred a fellowship status on Dr Henry Kwabena Kokofu, the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in Accra.

The award was in recognition of the EPA Boss’ contribution to the promotion of safety and health in the country.

Mr Andoh said within the first half of the year, over 1,500 lives had been lost due to motor accidents with several others recorded in factories, offices and farms.

He said the passage of the Bill would, therefore, help curb the high rate of accidents, minimise risks and enhance general safety.

“We are in the middle of July and already 1,560 people have died through motor accidents alone. There are several other figures from factories, offices, farms and every other place. Safety is very important and we know that when the Bill is passed, it will help Ghana to eliminate risks, accidents and injuries through safety to the barest minimum,” he said.

“If I had my way, the Bill should be ready by the end of the year because it has taken too long,” he said.

Mr Andoh noted that currently, Ghana had several Safety Laws and Regulations, including Factory, Offices and Shop Act, Liberal Regulations, Environmental Protection Law, Food and Drug Authority Law and Standard Board Act.

He said the Bill, when passed, would help streamline the acts and regulations, as well as give it legal backing.

“The safety of people is very important, therefore, we have to go through all the safety ramifications and make sure that they are safe. When it is passed, it is going to create a lot of activities in Ghana and ensure that every organization employing 25 or more people has a safety officer,” he added.

Ghana, since becoming a member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), on May 20, 1957, has ratified 31 out of the 51 conventions.

However, the country is yet to ratify the Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (155).

That, Mr Andoh said, was surprising considering that all the ramifications in the Convention were used in formulating the country’s laws, including labour regulations, factories, offices and shop Acts.

“The ILO has, for the past 25 years, pushed Ghana to ratify Convention 155, which is the Convention on health and safety. There are several safety conventions but that one is unique and every State should ratify it,” he said.

Dr Kokofu said as an Agency that dealt with dangerous chemicals and substances such as agrochemicals, industrial chemicals and hazardous e-waste materials, issues of health and safety was paramount.

He said the EPA had always considered health and safety issues in the issuance of an environmental permit to the public, including prescribing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment to ensure that occupational health standards were met.

The EPA Boss, therefore, commended the Association for taking up the mantle to push for an OHS Bill to formalize and structure OHS and to give it legal backing.

Occupational Health and Safety and Environment Association is an association of professionals in health, safety and environment.

Source: GNA