At a time when ‘youth are a rare resource’, the need to give priority to Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) measures at the workplace is unprecedented, observed the Director General, Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC), Kanishka Weerasinghe. The EFC Chief made these observations at the ILO-initiated workshop held on World Day for Safety and Health at Work recently.
The event partnered with the EFC, was aligned with the ILO’s global campaign on improving the safety and health of young workers. Having the best working conditions is a guiding factor for today’s youth to join the world of work, remarked Weerasinghe, who urged for a holistic effort with “meaningful intervention” at grass root level in promoting the same.
The EFC has been promoting the concept of occupational safety and health (OSH) as part of the sustainable enterprises agenda with its tripartite partners and civil society partners over the years and called for solidified efforts to prevent occupational accidents. DG EFC also remarked that the EFC was immensely proud of a membership that upholds high OSH standards and have been catalyst for the propagation of OSH standards island-wide. He also reiterated the EFC’s pledge to support other stakeholders in realizing this common objective.
In the wake of the recent incidents at several factories, this becomes even more valid, he averred, adding that the EFC had also called for a Task Force comprising representatives of the local bodies and community which could immediately mobilize at times of incidents to prevent unwarranted consequences.
“The answer is not the closing down of factories, but to assist employers to champion the practice of highest OSH standards; prevention is always better than cure,” he maintained.
The finalized Occupational Safety and Health Act needs to be implemented without further delay reminded Weerasinghe. The new OSH Act will replace some of the archaic provisions in the Factories Ordinance relating to OSH.
Every year around 2.78 million workers die due to work-related accidents and disease according to the latest global estimates by the ILO.
More than 85 percent of these cases are due to occupational illnesses. Non-fatal injuries affect around 374 million workers around the world and young workers- those between the ages of 15 and 24 are disproportionately affected by work related illness and accidents.
In such a global setting, the focus on OSH is becoming urgent each day. “The world of work is changing and the platform economy is here to stay. With the emergence of diverse forms of employment there cannot be any compromise on OSH values,” remarked Weerasinghe.