Work Related Deaths Rise-NSSA

More than 400 workers have died at the workplace between 2008 and 2013.

25000 others were injured in occupational hazards during the same period according to figures released by the National Social Security Authority (NSSA).

NSSA expressed concern over safety standards that continue to deteriorate every year despite industry operating well below capacity.

NSSA Occupational Health and Safety Director, Mr Rogers Dhliwayo said the workplace claimed over 400 lives in just five years while 24785 others were injured.

Dhliwayo said problems began when the economy hit a bad note in 2008.

The transport sector has also caused the loss of many lives.

According to NSSA, young drivers between the ages of 22 and 25 operating public transport commuter omnibuses not only die at their workplaces, but do so along with many other passengers who are not categorised under work place casualties.

When Zimbabwe’s economic challenges peaked in 2008, there were 3810 serious injuries and 65 deaths.

In 2009, the situation was only slightly better with 3122 injuries and 64 fatalities recorded.

In 2010, the number of serious injuries at work shot up to 4410, 90 of which were fatal.

In 2011, there was a slight reduction to 4158 serious injuries at work, with 75 deaths by the figures escalated in 2012, with serious injuries at work reaching 5141, with 107 deaths.

The 2013 to 2014 figures are yet to be released but NSSA has painted a gloomy picture over these last two years.

Meanwhile, analysts say implementing sound occupational safety and health policies makes good economic and business sense.

“The emotional and economic costs of failing to ensure occupational safety and health may undermine national aspirations for sustainable economic and social development,” said Barry Crooks, an occupational safety expert.

“A significant reduction in the incidence of occupational accidents and diseases over a reasonable period of time produces valuable economic benefits,” said Rangarirai Mazikana, an economic analyst.

Studies carried out in the developed world have shown that for every dollar invested in occupational safety, health and environmental management, there is two dollars return on business.

For Crooks, good management of employees’ safety and health reduces the number of mistakes and the cost of correcting problems.

Developing a national culture of safety in the workplace in key productive sectors such as agriculture, mining, manufacturing and construction, among others has also been encouraged to minimise the loss of productive hours due to human resource shortages.

Experts believe paying attention to occupational safety and health should be given a high priority not only on moral but economic grounds.