By Africa Moyo
Government is concerned over occupational deaths, which have hit 415 between 2013 and August this year. During the same period, 25 630 injuries, most of them serious, were recorded.
Critically, 51 fatalities and 3 841 injuries were recorded between January and August this year.
This was said by the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Dr Sekai Nzenza during the CEO’s breakfast meeting organised by the National Social Security (NSSA) in Harare last Friday.
Last year, 65 fatalities and 5 007 injuries were recorded while in 2016, 62 deaths and 5 364 injuries were recorded. In 2015 there were 54 deaths and 5 380 injuries while 2014 had the highest number of deaths at 106, with 76 employees dying a year earlier and 5 666 others being injured.
NSSA’s report shows that most of last year’s occupational accidents and diseases occurred in the mining and quarry sectors; commerce and distribution; personal services and security guards; local authorities, and food, drink and processing industries.
Dr Nzenza said it was critical for Government and labour to locate measures that can be implemented to curb the accidents and “provide a safe and healthy environment” for employees.
“I am not only talking about protective clothing or instruction manuals and signage, but also the food they eat and the water they drink at the workplace. Cholera is a reality and precautions must be taken at the workplace all the time,” said Dr Nzenza.
Last year, Zimbabwe adopted “vision zero” which calls for leadership commitment to make occupational health and safety (OHS) a top priority in industries. This includes availing adequate resources or budgets, ensuring the running of effective safety and health management systems and thorough inspection of the work environment, with hazards being identified and eliminated to create a safe working environment.
Dr Nzenza said it was key that employees should know that their company is not only out to make profits, but also to guarantee the safety and health of workers.
“As you may well know, a healthy mind and body contributes to enhanced productivity, thus economic growth. As Government, we have the National OHS Policy as one of the instruments that emphasises implementation of occupational safety and health management systems,” said Dr Nzenza.
The National OHS Policy applies to all workplaces — the manufacturing, mining, transportation, agricultural, construction, or public service.