Posted on: December 20, 2007 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0

Zimbabwe. The National Social Security Authority (NSSA), in consultation with its social partners – Government, employers and labour – is working on a draft Occupational Health and Safety Bill, which seeks to reduce accidents at workplaces while expediting compensation cases of industrial accident victims.

In an interview on Tuesday, NSSA acting assistant general manager for Occupational Health and Safety Mr Benjamin Mtetwa said although Zimbabwe had recorded a significant decline in occupational accidents, the incidence was still high hence the need to come up with mitigatory legislation.

He pointed out that under the current laws, they had outstanding cases of families of occupational accident victims still seeking compensation from accidents that occurred several years ago.

“We are currently working with our partners to develop the Occupational Safety and Health Bill, which we hope will be tabled before Parliament next year.

“The draft Bill is still in its formative stage where we are still holding consultations with our social partners and we expect the Bill to be presented to Parliament once we reach a consensus,” he said.

He said NSSA hopes that if the Bill passes through Parliament it would come up with provisions that would expedite the resolution of cases pending at the courts while creating separate courts to deal specifically with related cases.

“This is a high priority area, which involves people’s lives and we hope to bring to book those flouting occupational Safety and Health standards,” he said.

He expressed hope that the Bill would sail through Parliament by the end of 2008.

Some of the high profile cases that are still pending at the courts include the Millennium Towers accident that claimed 15 workers and an accident in which 21 casual farm workers perished in a lorry accident.

Mr Mtetwa said the number of occupational injuries and deaths have continued on a downward trend with 5 568 injuries and 64 fatalities recorded in the period between January and November this year.

Over the corresponding period last year, 6 901 injuries and 73 deaths from occupational accidents were recorded.

Most deaths were recorded in the mining industry due to falling grounds, adding that there was need for the companies to work hard to improve the support systems of the mines.

Mr Mtetwa disclosed that NSSA was failing to conduct comprehensive inspection of machinery at various industrial firms due to serious staff shortages at the authority.

“It is part of our strategies for the maintenance of Safety and Health standards at the workplaces through annual inspections of machinery at the industries but our staff complement has dropped over the years and it has become quite a challenge to effectively conduct these inspections,” he said.

He said NSSA had suffered a high turnover of Safety and Health inspectors with employees moving on as soon as they gained experience from the authority.

“We are supposed to have a staff establishment of 31 inspectors to service about 14 000 registered factories but due to staff turnover we only have 20 inspectors.

“This is a major challenge in our efforts to reduce the number of occupational injuries and deaths to about 3 000 and 50 respectively by the year 2010 which we have set as the benchmark for us to realise these figures as a country,” he said.

He commended companies that were maintaining Occupational Health and Safety standards and regulations through competitions and rewards for their staff who maintain these standards.

He, however, called all industries to implement Occupational Health and Safety management systems so that they would not be caught unawares when the Occupational Health and Safety Bill is passed into law.

Mr Mtetwa said NSSA was available to provide guidance on setting up these management systems.

Source: The Herald (Harare)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â By: Sydney Kawadza
Posted to the web 20 December 2007