GETHSEMANE MWIZABI, Ndola
WORLD statistics on occupational accidents and diseases as compiled by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) indicate that at least two million workers die as a result of work-related accidents annually across the world.
With about 8760 hours making a year, it means that about 228 accidents occur every hour somewhere on the planet. Horrifying as this may seem, something can be done about it, which is why the Vision Zero campaign suits the occasion.
In Zambia, accidents appear to be grossly under reported as many employers fail to report most incidences. Reasons for failure to report accidents range from fear of prosecution for failure to adhere to safety standards to failure to comply with the Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board’s (WCFCB’s) requirement for employers to insure all eligible employees. In the financial year 2017/18, WCFCB received reports of about 1,027 occupational accidents and diseases. Further, from April 1, 2018 to date, 620 accident reports have been received by the Board; with the highest incidents coming from the food, agriculture and forestry and mining sectors accounting for 91, 90 and 70 cases respectively.
These accidents and diseases were occasioned by several factors such as human error, poor state of equipment and machines and non-conformity to safety procedures at workplaces.
As a long-term solution to the problem of increasing accident experience at workplaces, the International Social Security Association (ISSA) launched the first ever global campaign to improve safety, health and wellbeing at workplaces during its 21st world congress last year in Singapore and invited WCFCB to join the campaign and became a partner.
The ambitious campaign called ‘Vision Zero’, aims to engage companies to systematically eliminate occupational accidents and diseases by investing in a healthy and motivated workforce.
The Vision Zero campaign is based on the underlying ethical principle that all accidents, diseases and harm at work are preventable if the core values of the campaign – safety, health and wellbeing – are embraced.
ISSA developed seven golden rules which support attainment of a world of work without fatalities, which are as follows:
-Taking leadership and demonstrating commitment to eliminate accidents and diseases at workplaces.
-Identifying hazards and controlling risks at workplaces
-Defining targets and developing programmes to address safety, health and wellbeing at work places.
-Ensuring safety and health in the systems and being well organised
-Ensuring safety and health in machines, equipment and workplaces
-Improving qualifications through developing competencies of workers
-Investing in people and motivating them through involvement in health and safety programmes.
On Friday, December 14, 2018, Zambia became the fourth African country to successfully launch the Vision Zero campaign in Livingstone with over 400 delegates in attendance. A call to action from stakeholders like the media will be key in educating the public on the need to move towards zero accidents by 2030.
The critical role of the media in educating society to embrace the Vision Zero campaign in Zambia cannot be over-emphasised.
Ultimately, WCFCB is calling on all stakeholders, especially employers to join the Vision Zero campaign to ensure that Zambia creates workplaces that are safe and healthy for all workers by 2030.
For more information on how you can participate in the campaign, kindly contact us on phone number 054605474.
The author is communications officer at Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board Email:firstname.lastname@example.orgemail@example.com. Tel: 0211621283
GETHSEMANE MWIZABI, Ndola