By Kenneth Matimaire
Mutare, October 21, 2016 – ZIMBABWEANS continue working under life threatening conditions at their various workplaces as the country’s occupational laws are outdated and out of touch with the ever changing professional systems now in place, an official has said.
This comes amid revelations a massive 442 workers died while 24,866 employees were injured due to work related accidents between 2010 and 2014.
National Social Security Authority (NSSA) chief of research and development manager, Benjamin Mutetwa said there is an urgent need of occupational law reforms in order to ensure the safety of workers during their course of duty.
Mutetwa was speaking during the Occupational Safety and Health Bill consultation meeting in Mutare on Wednesday.
He said workers are being exposed to excessive noise, faulty machinery, harmful chemicals and toxic substances without protective regalia among a host of other risks.
“We are lagging behind in occupational laws. We need to refine them. The rate at which workers are being injured and dying is unacceptable. Yes, we are still a developing country but we want to be at par with international standards that comprehensively guarantees the safety of workers,” said Mutetwa.
The chief researcher said the high rate of deaths and injuries at the workplace are as a result of the absence of a law that speaks to the safety of workers.
Mutetwa lamented that the country has ignored the Occupational Safety and Health Bill for the past 20 years.
“Calls for the need of the OSH Bill have been there for the past 20 years. And we are now taking advantage of the alignment of laws to advocate for the implementation of this Bill,” he said.
Mutetwa said the OSH Bill will allow workers and inspectors to stop operations at any respective company if there is clear evidence that the safety of employees is at risk.
Inspectors will give recommendations that may lead to a lawsuit if the employer fails to comply.