17 January 2018

Ethiopia: Due Attention to Occupational Safety, Health

Ethiopia eyeing to ensure full implementation of occupational safety and health with the aim of ensuring decent work.Globally, about 2.02 million people die each year from work-related accidents or diseases. And ILO estimates that 4 percent of the world's annual GDP is lost as a consequence of occupational diseases and accidents with construction works singled out as the most dangerous. Concurrently, in Ethiopia, there have been human loss due to the low attention given to occupational safety and health issues despite having a national Occupational and Safety and Health (OSH) since 2014.

This sentiment was echoed by Ambassador Mesganaw Admasu, State Minister of Labor and Social (MoLSA) while opening a training forum held between the Ministry and Ethiopian Contractors Associations members yesterday.

He said that while the construction sector has been contributing greatly in the country's fast economic growth and overall development during the last ten years, the sector may cause human, economic and social harm due to its dangerous nature.

Ambassador Mesganaw noted that MoLSA, together with the Ministry of Construction, is working to fill the occupational safety and health gaps existing and help curb such hazardous incidents in the construction sector as of last year.

Citing studies, Mesfin Yilma, Team Leader of Occupational Safety and Health with the Ministry, indicated that 75 percent of the human, social and economic losses resulting from lack of OSH are preventable through the implementation of sound prevention, reporting and inspection practices.

He said that the functioning performance of occupational safety and health in the country was found to be very poor according to the performance audit done by the Auditor General.

In addition to this, the private sector has limited awareness concerning protection and safety, he further added.

The reasons behind this, he said, fall on limited awareness in the general public including the media, absence of pre-insurance prevention and lack of skilled safety and health staff in the private sector.

Ethiopian Contractors Association President Tewedros Zewdie for his part said that though the turnout in the members is encouraging, there is still visible gap towards ensuring the occupational safety and health of workers. For him, less concern and limited awareness is the major shortcoming in the sector.

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