A three-day sensitisation programme on Prevention and Protection against falls from Height in Construction for Tripartite Constituents kicked off yesterday at the Gold Crest Hotel in Quatre Bornes. The programme is an initiative of the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations, Employment and Training in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation(ILO).
The Permanent Secretary of the Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations, Employment and Training, Dr P Boodhun, and other personalities were present at the event.
In his address at the opening ceremony, the Permanent Secretary underlined that the construction industry plays a pivotal role in the socio-economic development of the country and is also one of the most hazardous industry due to the complexities that it involves. There are many high risk areas in the construction sector resulting in both fatal and non-fatal occupational accidents, he observed. He indicated that the most frequent problem encountered in the construction industry in Mauritius is inadequate scaffolding.
The sensitisation programme, he pointed out, comes at an opportune time when the country is witnessing major development projects. The aim is to enable proper assessment of risks inherent to working at heights, and the elaboration of proper policy and strategy to prevent and protect against falling from heights, he said.
Dr Boodhun further highlighted that the Occupational Safety and Health Division of the Ministry is sparing no effort to maintain high levels of occupational safety and health standards in ensuring continual enhancement in the safe working conditions of workers in all sectors including the construction sector. He recalled that the Occupational Safety and Health (Work at Height) Regulations 2013 and the Occupational Safety and Health (Safety of Scaffolds) Regulations 2013 were made under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 2005 to provide for the legal framework to safeguard safety and health standards in the construction industry.
Moreover, the Permanent Secretary underlined that Government has a responsibility to ensure the occupational health and safety of all workers. The setting up of a Construction Unit under the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations, Employment and Training, he highlighted, bears testimony of the importance that is being given to the security of workers in the construction industry. As at date, the Unit has carried out some 3 311 inspections, established 158 contraventions and issued 97 prohibition orders.
According to the ILO, around 1 000 persons die every day from occupational accidents and one out of every six fatal accidents at work reported globally occurs on a construction site which reflects the high risk nature of the construction sector.
The Sensitisation Programme
The objective of the sensitisation programme is to increase awareness on the hazards and risks of falls from height during construction works with a view to improving occupational safety and health standards in the construction sector.
It will also provide a forum for consultation among stakeholders on key issues and measures available to control risks to prevent and protect against falls from height namely a quantified model of the influences affecting falls from height covering human, hardware and external factors including weather conditions; a toolkit for selecting effective measures and monitoring improvement; a strategy to inculcate the culture of safety at workplace.
The resource persons are namely the Senior Occupational Safety and Health Specialist, Mr Franklin Muchiri, and Professor Alves Dias Luis from the ILO.