Occupational health a major concern - PURA Boss
Friday, March 28, 2008
Alhagie B Gaye, director general of PURA, has described the institutionalisation of occupational health and safety policies at work places as a major challenge in ensuring effective health and safety practices within regulated utilities of PURA. He added that tackling this challenge, is one of their major concern and responsibility.
Mr Gaye made these remarks on Tuesday, at a one day health and safety seminar held at the Paradise Suites Hotel in kololi.
Mr Gaye further stated that; “with the help of PURA’s inspection teams who go round on regular visits to sites and installations as part of their regulatory mandate, PURA has discovered that most employees, especially technical personnel work under very challenging conditions, because standards of health and safety were generally ignored and not strictly adhered to”.
He stated that in certain cases workers will be supplied with protective gears and all other safety precaution materials but they will not used it for its purpose, noting that, there is still that culture of negligence, which according to him, calls for greater sensitisation on the need to observe high standards of occupational health and safety.
In his keynote address, Saul Samba, Permanent Secretary at the Department of State for health (DoSH), reminded the gathering on one of the fundamental aims of vision 2020, to turn the Gambia into a modern private sector led economy with a healthy, safety conscious and competent workforce.
Mr Samba also commended PURA for not only restricting itself to regulating technical standards and quality but engaging in raising awareness on safety and occupational health issues, which is of great concern to DoSH on a wider perspective.
According to him, policies and regulations are necessary but the most effective method to follow in fulfilling any mandate, is through public awareness campaigns and dialogue with stakeholders by organising seminars and other public outreach programmes.
For his part, Doudou Ndoye, commissioner of labour at PURA, stated that health and safety at work places must be everyone’s business adding that the human resource base in any institution, is the most important .
According to him, introducing occupational health requires a concerted effort by PURA and all stakeholders to ensure that regulations are upheld noting that it is vital to introduce health and safety in every management, organisation or institution, be it government or private.
On matters of compensation packages, Mr Ndoye disclosed that interest in this area is growing and that the Social Security and Housing Finance Cooperation (SSHFC), are the trustees of this fund wherein the one percent of every employee’s earning is deducted and saved for him in case of any accident or emergency, adding that the concerned victim must be registered with the SSHFC .
“There is a time frame for compensation, and that accidents must be reported immediately so that medical checks effected to evaluate the victim’s condition and registeration of compensation of medical bills are settled on time”.
Mr Ndoye further disclosed that this year, they will focus mainly on sensitisation and raising awareness, to ensure that regulations are fully enacted in all institutions.
Other speakers at the workshop include; Alex Dacosta Senior Communications Officer at PURA, who made a presentation on the use of communication mechanisms to ensure health and safety and Katchi Darboe of the Gambia Ports Authority.
Author: by Ebrima Jatta