By Henok Tibebu | Monday Aug 28, 2017
Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) improves industrial relations between employers and employees as well as productivity, said Yifokir Tefera, President of the Ethiopian OSH Professionals.
The president told The Ethiopian Herald that OSH also improves working conditions and proper implementation of the nation's labor law.
Maintaining smooth relationship among employers' federations, employees' associations and safety committees is instrumental in promoting OSH.
OSH has become the order of the day and significant part of investment; he said adding, for long bad industrial relations have been a major obstacle in improving productivity as they continue to be a major reason for wasting working hours in labor courts.
Though the country is member of the International Labor Organization and signed different conventions, the activities to improve OSH have been few so far, he added.
According to him, the major problem is low level of awareness about OSH among employees, employers as well as some staff members of the executive body. "Some employers associate OSH with cost than investment. Some executive bodies or labor inspectors also think that OSH could affect investment" Yifokir said adding "On the other hand, unhealthy industrial relations emerge due to lack of poor quality, unavailability and improper usage of safety materials or equipment."
The first ILO principle of OSH is avoiding hazard from working areas. Providing safety equipment is the last option. However, it is hardly possible to completely avoid hazard but only decrease it. This could be done by replacing hazardous materials and places with less hazardous ones and finally by fulfilling the facility to safety equipment.
According to Tilahun Niguse, Assistant Coordinator of the Labour Affairs Board at the Bureau of Addis Ababa Labour and Social Affairs (BOLSA) as the nation's industry is in its early stage of development, it could be beyond the capacity of local companies to use state-of-the-art machineries. But in order to improve the working environment and reduce accidents, safety equipments are better options.
Tilahun emphasized that awareness raising tasks about the labor law and harmonious industrial relations are intensified by the labor inspectors as well as the Labor Board of the Bureau. More than seven hundred employees and employers have gained the service from the Board only in the past fiscal year, he added.
This article was first published in The Ethiopian Herald