The Ministry of Labour and Social Security, in collaboration with its social partners, has on July 17, organized a consultative meeting with key stakeholders on the development of a national occupational safety and health policy geared towards enhancing the safety and health of workers across the country.
As Sierra Leone is part of the International Labour Organisation, which recommendations are legally bindding; the ministry has held several workshops across the country with stakeholders so as to make their own input into the development of a policy that would be geared towards protecting all workers in the country.
Speaking at the ceremony held at the Sierra Leone Labour Congress, Deputy Secretary at the ministry of labour, Allieu Bakara Conteh, said the rationale behind the workshop was to develop a policy to protect workers from all occupational hazards and abuse.
He said over the years there hasn't been a policy to protect workers and that there have been several issues that have not been dealt with accordingly, hence the ministry invited stakeholder to make their own input as to what should be included in the policy that they were about to develop.
He said the workshop would look into issues boarding on workers in their different work places, citing safety and health of workers in the informal sector, and what are some of the measures government will put in place to ensure that there are adequate protection for workers in the informal sector.
He added that some work places like the telecom companies and the mines sector do not have enough protective gears like helmet, safety boot and the likes to ensure the full safety of workers.
He said they will be looking at the system of reporting accident, injuries, and diseases at work places, adding that they have series of reports based on those issues at the ministry; hence they will be sharing the policy with all work places so that employers will know exactly what and what to do.
He said the workshop focuses on what government and other institutions should do to improve on accident reporting, the occupational safety and health of workers, date to collect data, duties and responsibilities of workers and the responsibility of Labour Ministry and social security.
Director of Operational Safety and Social Security, Mohamed Alhaji Koroma, stated that they cannot develop a policy without the express knowledge of stakeholders, adding that over the years they have ratified several conventions geared towards the protection of workers.
He said as recent as last year they ratified Convention 155 on Operational Safety and the Conventional 187 on Promotional Framework for the safety of workers at work places, and that they were doing all those things to improve on the working environment for the safety, health and welfare of the workers, "so that as you live your home in the morning to go to work you will go safely and live safely. This policy is one of the domestications of the ILO Convention 155 and 187, which we should domesticate by developing a national policy to guide us with the principles of decent work country program and also on the surface of preventive safety culture for our workers."
Plenary discussions around key topics including safety and health for workers in the informal economic sector, system of reporting accident, injuries and disease at work places, occupational safety and health data collection, duties and responsibilities of workers, responsibility of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, formed part of the workshop.