WORKER’S COMPENSATION CORNER with MAYBIN NKHOLOMBA
IN Canada, Manitoba precisely, there is a programme called Safe Workers of Tomorrow (SWOT) which mainly targets prevention of workplace injury and fatality among young and vulnerable workers by raising awareness of workplace safety and health issues.
The programme mainly focuses, we are told, on students and it provides workplace health and safety information to students at no cost to the school anywhere in Manitoba. The presentations range from a one hour general health and safety presentation, to a full day health and safety practicum.
The topics covered in the presentations include worker rights and employer responsibilities, hazard recognition and control, health and safety legislation, and injury reporting and the role of the Workers Compensation Board.
The presentations are delivered by energetic and knowledgeable SWOT staff and volunteers who employ a variety of techniques to engage participants and foster student led discussions. Students receive a workplace safety and health resource book and other useful take away items to help them after the presentation is done.
The results of such investments are obviously seen a reduction of work place accidents reported annually to the Workersâ€™ Compensation Fund, an institution whose mandate is the same as ours here in Zambia.
In Zambia, Ndola precisely, we have started a safety quiz for students from public and private schools, which will soon air on Muvi television on the concept of safe workers of tomorrow. Whereas the presentations in schools are yet to start, there is sufficient cause for us to believe that safety knowledge will be provided to students through the quiz and for those who may not have the opportunity through watching television. Our manager for rehabilitation, safety and health is presently developing materials that will inform the SWOT programme in schools, and once we are ready, the school programmes will start. We have taken time to roll out this programme because we had to attend to stakeholder engagement especially the ministries of general and higher education, which ministries have given blessings for us to start on the programme.
We are fully aware that initiating a new order of things is the most difficult task as there is always opposition from those who believe in status quo but we believe that the benefits of SWOT are self-evident from the explanation given in the opening of this article, and also the experience of our colleagues in North America.
The culture of poor safety habits by most of the workers in Zambia needs far reaching interventions such as those, other people around the globe, particularly in advanced societies, are employing to provide a sustainable panacea to the vicissitude of work injuries.
In Canada, they have targeted youths as we are also now doing, as a more sustainable approach rather than the other traditional health and safety programmes that focus on current human capital.
Except in our case, the focus is on a safety quiz to run on a community television station rather than schools, in the initial stages of the programme. The pilot project is targeting schools in Ndola and thereafter it will roll out to all the 10 provinces but we believe that populations outside school age will also have an opportunity to follow the SWOT programme on television.
As we have stated before, safety is too important to be left to a few experts, it requires the efforts of all those who may be exposed to hazards of all kinds in all kinds of human endeavour.
As a key stakeholder in safety and health matters, we have made our own contributions to find solutions that bring about a culture of safety in our workers. These, as some readers may be aware, are in the form of sponsorship of safety news on the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation and at one time a strip in the Times of Zambia.
In additional to utilisation of mass media systems to reach stakeholders on health and safety matters, we have programmes that run in work places where our safety experts conduct inspections, appraisal visits and lectures. We have noted from the trend analysis how incidences of accidents and diseases at work have been reducing, and we attribute this to a number of other factors including the efforts from our organisation.
However, we feel that these efforts have largely only targeted current human capital, and that there is need to look at the future by investing safety knowledge in the young adults for a better tomorrow. Therefore, SWOT for us is a strategic direction that we have taken in pursuit of goals that seek social justice and economic efficiency.
We remain hopeful that the programme will be embraced by the target group and that stakeholders will also support the initiative, in order for us all to realise value from such social investments in causes of this nature.
The author is Workersâ€™ Compensation Fund Control Board corporate affairs and customer services manager
Email: email@example.com Tel: 0212621283
WORKER’S COMPENSATION CORNER with MAYBIN NKHOLOMBA