28 April 2018
As the world and South Africa celebrates World Day for Safety and Health at Work and the World Day Against Child Labour under the theme: “Improve the Safety and Health of Young Workers and End Child Labour”, the Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) has called workers and employers to embrace an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) culture in the workplace.
While sectors such as mining and construction are inherently dangerous workplaces – as shown by incessant horrendous statistics – FEDUSA’s call is based on widely held beliefs by occupational health and safety experts that in South Africa; unsafe working environment make only up around 10% of workplace accidents compared to more than 80% that is attributable to human error either by employers or workers.
It is in the area of the role of human error in workplaces accidents that FEDUSA believes that each of the stakeholders employers; workers individually and collectively through their unions; and government have a critical role to play.
FEDUSA wants employers to voluntarily embrace a culture of occupational health and safety first by complying with government regulations and guidelines, second by investing their own resources in continuously educating employees about safe behaviour at work, both for themselves and for their colleagues, and third by striving to build a record of minimal or zero accidents within their organizations.
For its part, government needs to adopt a two-prong approach of reward and sanction; by publicly applauding companies that achieve a good health and safety record and rebuking, and even penalising those that endanger workers’ lives.
Trade unions also have a critical role to play in ensuring the safety of their members at work. They could this by educating their members about the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act especially about when it is legitimate and permissible to refuse to carry out orders that might endanger their lives. Unions also got another very important role to play both in continuously demanding that management in their companies comply with the government’s health and safety regulations; and acting as whistle blowers and the eyes and ears of the Department of Labour Inspectorate wherever there is flagrant disregard of safety rules by employers.
FEDUSA is the largest politically non-aligned trade union federation in South Africa and represents a diverse membership from a variety of sectors in industry. See www.fedusa.org.za for more information.
For interviews please contact:
FEDUSA General Secretary
084 805 1529
FEDUSA Media Officer
072 637 8096