THE Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA), has started a special initiative of accrediting doctors operating at workplaces to increase the number of health inspectors in the country.
OSHA Director for Safety, Eng Alexander Ngata told the 'Sunday News' that the authority has dispatched letters to various workplaces and that 15 applicants had already responded.
"Before these applicants can be accredited, to help boost the much needed human resource to inspect all the workplaces in the country, they have to comply with our conditions including that of not inspecting their own workplaces for fear of conflict of interest," he said.
Eng Ngata said that on normal circumstances a doctor working at a workplace would not be allowed to be an inspector for other premises but due to shortage of human resources, they had decided to take this step.
According to available report for 2011, OSHA had 50 inspectors nationwide catering for more than 20,000 workplaces. "Increase of inspectors may appear small but we know the impact will be significant. In this financial year, 2012/13, we have inspected more places than ever before.
In the first quarter, we inspected 15,000 workplaces, 10,000 in the second and in this quarter so far we are nearing 10,000," he explained. He added that in previous years it would usually take a full year to cover 10,000 workplaces, citing that the boost in human resource would greatly speed up the process.
Thanks to the pressure by the Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Hussein Mwinyi, on mines in the country, OSHA is seeing a reduction of complaints and more compliance in employers getting their employees' health checked.
Eng. Ngata said that the authority had started a special operation where it had sent a team of doctors to the Bulyanhulu Gold Mine, North Mara, Geita Gold Mine and others would follow. He said that sending six doctors to check the health of more than 1200 employees in just one mine was really hard and slow work, but was glad that the Bulyanhulu exercise was successful.
"Thanks to the Minister's efforts, we are now seeing a lot of improvements in the mines and more so operators have accepted to be inspected and checking of the health of their workers," he said. According to the 2011 report, between 2001 and 2005, OSHA increased its specialized and general inspections from 40,000 to 80,000 in 2006 to 2011.
However, in spite of the achievements not many workplaces had been covered and they were largely in the formal sector. The sector that is the most risky and involved a bigger number of people, the informal and small scale enterprises had yet to be reached.