The Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Petronella Kagonye has raised worries that the number of work-related injuries and deaths has remained unacceptably high in Zimbabwe during the Engineer’s Safety and Health Workshop in Harare this week.
The Minister was giving opening remarks at the workshop where Engineers discussed ways to reduce and prevent accidents, at workplaces.
“If we value occupational safety and health of our employees, we should strive to eradicate occupational injury” said Kagonye.
“As safety and health gatekeepers, failure on your part, results in catastrophic consequences on the precious human lives.”
The Minister said that the statistics on the numbers of work-related injuries and deaths raise the question of whether safety to health practitioners in industries have been effective in various roles.
“In 2016 there were 59 fatalities from the 5360 injuries recorded while 65 fatals occurred out of the 5007 serious injuries recorded in 2017,” said Kagonye.
“As for the current year, 434 injuries and 6 deaths have already been recorded for the months of January and February 2018.”
Sectors with high rates include mining and agriculture according to the Principal Training Officer at the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), Lovemore Mpofu. Other sectors include communications and the Commerce and Distribution sector.
Kagonye also said that safety and health at the workplace is everyone’s right.
“My Ministry and indeed the Government is committed to the provision of decent work for all workers, Social Welfare Minister said.
“In line with the ILO (International Labour Organisation) standards, we are committed to ensuring that no employee should get injured or die due to occupational accidents or diseases”.
ILO is a tripartite United Nations (UN) agency which brings together governments, employers, and workers of 187 member States, to set labor standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.
Although work-related injuries and accidents are still high, statistics in the last 4 years indicate a slight decline.
Mpofu said that although the 1990s statistics were not yet available, work-related accidents would reach up to 10 thousand per year but have been reduced to around 5 thousand as the number of industries in Zimbabwe reduced in the wake of the 21st century.