Spike in fatal workplace accidents

More Zimbabwean workers are dying on the job, according to the findings of Zimbabwe’s State-owned pension fund’s workplace safety investigators.

The National Social Security Authority (Nssa), noticing a disturbing trend, crunched the numbers and found that occupational accidents and fatalities increased by 19 percent from 2017 to 2018.

Speaking at the Nssa engineers’ workshop yesterday, Labour ministry permanent secretary Judith Kateera said there had been a misconception that all work accidents are due to human error when others were not.

Her remarks come as Nssa has adopted the global International Labour Organisation’s ‘Vision Zero’ which aims to reduce work-related illnesses, accidents and deaths. “It is sad to note that 5 965 injuries and 70 fatalities were recorded in 2018 compared to 
5 007 injuries and 65 fatalities recorded in 2017.

Mining, agriculture and forestry, basic metal and fabricated metal production, transport and storage and manufacturing are leading sectors in causing these accidents. “Over the past years when accidents happened, we would rush to blame up to 90 percent of them on human behaviour or error.

We talked of behaviour-based safety as the cure-all panacea to our safety woes. We conveniently forgot that to attain zero harm we needed to start at the beginning which is at design stage,” Kateera said. She said safety innovations at design stage are crucial as engineers are presented with the greatest opportunity for hazard elimination.

The permanent secretary added that engineers had to reflect on how safe some places where such as the railway crossings in Kuwadzana and Ruwa as well as steep descents such as the Boterekwa, Christmas Pass and Muzarabani escarpments.

“Failure to recognise how design is contributing to hazard proliferation unfairly exonerates those responsible for plant design, manufacture, purchase as well as the regulators. Tragically, we see sleaze and malpractice pervading these processes.

It is clear that poor design results in hazard causation and also ensures continuation and repetition of injury causing incidents,” she said. Nssa board chairperson Cuthbert Chidoori said Zimbabwe’s workplaces were prone to a myriad of occupational safety and health challenges which the authority was seized with addressing.

“Compliance with national occupational safety and health laws is part of good engineering practice. All engineers are encouraged to be part of the professional ethical practice,” Chidoori said. 
It’s the employers’ responsibility to instil safety practices and provide safety equipment, but it’s also the personal responsibility of workers to do what they are supposed to do, officials say.

    Post a comment

    Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
    Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
    - Editor

    Your email address will not be shared.