April 28th is the World Day for Safety and Health at work where this year’s celebration has been commemorated under the theme, ‘Anticipate, prepare and respond to crises — Invest now in resilient occupational safety and health systems.’
Led by the state minister for youth and children affairs, Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi, the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development joined the rest of the world to commemorate this day.
Held at the Uganda Media Center, Nakiwala used this opportunity to raise awareness and also focus national attention on the magnitude of the occupational safety and health problem on how to create a safety and health culture.
The minister referred to the International Labor Organization report that showed that 6,300 people die as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases every day.
“This translates into more than 2.3 million deaths per year. In addition, 317 million accidents occur on the job annually and many of these result in extended absences from work,” Nakiwala referred.
Since the emerging of COVID-19 as a global crisis in early 2020, it has had profound impacts on the world of work from the risk of transmission of the virus in workplaces to widespread job losses in key sectors.
Nakiwala noted that measures put in place to contain the spread of the virus have also resulted into other risks to occupational safety and health.
“We have witnessed shifts to new forms of working arrangements such as working from home. While this has been essential to limit the spread of the virus and maintain jobs and business continuity, it has led to psychological stress due to the fear of loss of employment because of poor performance,” she said.
On this, the minister called upon the workers and organizations to take reasonable care for their own safety and that of others who may be affected by the acts of work.
“Also, comply with occupational safety and health instructions including use of personal protective equipment and report any hazardous situation, any work accident or injury at the workplace,” Nakiwala urged workers.
At the same event, a set of guidelines jointly developed in consultation with workers, employers and partners from food and agricultural organizations was issued.
Laws and guidelines are critical in setting standards for promoting occupational safety and health and it is in that spirit that these guidelines have been developed. These are to ensure safety and health in workplaces in the formal sector, agricultural sector and in use of gas cylinders.
This event was also attended by Sam Lyomoki, The workers representative in parliament, Douglas Opio, Executive Director Federation of Uganda employers, among others who accompanied the minister.