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Human-animal conflict claims life amid vision zero campaign

Minister of Labour and Social Security Joyce Simukoko addressing workers at the vision zero workshop at Moba Hotel in Kitwe. On her left is WCFCB commissioner and chief executive officer Elizabeth Nkumbula.

MAYBIN NKHOLOMBA
A38-YEAR-OLD employee of David Livingstone Safari Lodge and Spa was last week trampled to death by an elephant.
The sad incident happened shortly after the Minister of Labour and Social Security Joyce Simukoko graced the Vision Zero workshop with a focus on eliminating accidents at workplaces in Zambia. Information reaching us was that Mutemba Muzya of Linda township had been cycling to work through Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park when the elephant attacked him around 06:00 hours. And Department of National Parks and Wildlife southern region senior warden Lewis Daka who identified the worker, advised operators and owners of hospitality facilities in national parks to provide reliable and safe transport to prevent such accidents in future.
The accident attributed to human-animal conflict is confirmation of the urgent need for stakeholders to support the Vision Zero campaign, which provides seven golden rules for the prevention of accidents and diseases. These rules regard taking leadership in matters of health and safety, identification of hazards and controlling risks, including putting in place a health and safety system among others.
Regarding the fatal accident involving Muzya, we wish to advise facility operators to put in place reliable and safe transport for workers who commute to work via the national parks. As we have stated before, we strongly believe that all accidents are preventable and that no worker should die because of work. The accident in question was preventable only if the rules of the Vision Zero campaign were applied. And maybe we can borrow the words of the minister spoken to participants during the Vision Zero workshop that ‘to assign work without ensuring safety is Satanic’. She said some employers commit ‘murder’ by neglecting the safety and health of workers.
The minister told the gathering that striving for a world without fatalities or injuries is one of the greatest challenges comfronting human nature. She explained that there is need to respond to all these challenges, adding that we should keep abreast with the latest occupational safety and health practices and standards in the country and world over.
She explained that the government cannot single-handedly deliver a vibrant social security systyem for employment injuries without the support and participation of key stakeholders such as workers and employers. As the case maybe for the accident involving Muzya, there is even greater need for stakeholders to work together to avoid similar incidences in future by embracing the Vision Zero campaign. It is all about mindset change from one of fault-finding to one of proactively engaging stakeholders on matters of safety and health.
As the minister indicated, employers and workers in Zambia should support the governement on matters of safety and health at work by continually applying basic safety procedures and systems in order to eliminate accidents and diseases.
Readers may wish to learn that the minister actually commended the Workers Compensation Fund Control Board for joining the international community, in particular the International Social Security Association, to bring the Vision Zero campaign to Zambia. She observed that this was one of the latest developments in safety and health practices and standards which sought to cultivate a mindset change that all accidents and occupational diseases were preventable. It is therefore disheartening to see that accidents have continued to occur against a background of high level commitment by the government to eliminate them.
As far we are concerned, all accidents and diseases are preventable. Yes to err is human, but mistakes should not cost life at all and that is the reason we have set up a department of occupational health and safety to work with industries in ensuring that we deliver safe and health workplaces. Readers maybe interested to learn that the programmes conducted by our department of occupational health and safety are free of charge and that employers are free to seek our services at anytime. As it is, we have detailed the deepartment to engage employers in Livingstone on prevention of accidents resulting from animal-human conflicts such as the one under discussion today. We strongly believe that by working with industry closely on matters of saftey, we can achieve the objectives of the vision zero campaign in Zambia. A world of work without fatalities, harm or injury is possible in Zambia by 2030 and we urge all our stakeholders to come board by joining the campaign as partners.
The author is head – communications and customer services at Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board. Email compensation@workers.com.zm; Tel 0212621283

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