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Occupational Health and Safety programme to be rolled out

By: By Ama Amankwah Baafi

The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Ignatius Baffour Awuah, has said that the ministry is working on a cabinet memorandum on occupational health and safety (OHS) for the entire Ghanaian workforce, in line with best practices.

He noted that OHS was practised in pockets such that depending on the area of the economy one found himself/herself itself, an aspect of OHS was operated there.

“So we want to have an overarching body that will supervise all OHS operations within the various sectors of the economy. We will have a national standard and we would want every such policy at the local level to be able to feed into the national OHS programme,” he stated during the launch of a manual on Banana Occupational Health and Safety Initiative (BOHESI) in Accra on Wednesday, February 26, 2020.

He said banana was a popular fruit worldwide and so any activity to make its production and consumption safer was in the interest of consumers and was commendable.

He commended the Banana Producers Association of Ghana (BPA) and its partners for collaborating to develop the initiative and said the sector had the potential to become major employer of labour in the rural communities in the country.  

Mr Baffour-Awuah noted that the three banana producing companies, namely Golden Exotics Limited, Volta River Estates Limited and Musahamat Farms Limited, had employed about 5000 permanent workers who were fair trade certified.

“What this means is that they support the banana producing areas in which they operate by way of social investment, education, health and water systems, among others. They are, therefore, alive to their corporate social responsibility must be commended,” he said.

He added that the introduction of the manual signified the intention of the BPA and its partners to provide the best working conditions for their workers and also in line with the best practices.

'We want to have an overarching body that will supervise all OHS operations within the various sectors of the economy.'

The manual comes in three parts: International Conventions on Health and Safety which Ghana has ratified, National Legislations and Practices that promote health and safety; Practical Guide for Risk Management on the Farms and Gender Guidelines on Safety Environment for Women in the Industry.

The BOHESI was facilitated by the World Banana Forum (WBF), hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

In 2019, the BPA and other stakeholders, namely the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), Banana Link, the WBF and the International Union of Food workers IUF expressed interest to adopt and expand on BOHESI activities, following its success in Ecuador particularly.

The BOHESI aims to contribute to a socially and environmentally sustainable banana production and trade through improved workplace health conditions and to improve standard of living for male and female workers and their communities.