Report WFTU-PLF International Seminar on Occupational Health & Safety at Work Place from 10th to 11th December,2013 at Hotel Ambassador Lahore Pakistan
Two days International Seminar on Occupational Health & Safety was organized by World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and Pakistan Labour Federation (PLF) from 10th to 11th December,2013 at Hotel Ambassador Lahore, Pakistan, 90 Participants from all over the Country were participated.
The Leaders of 6 Affiliates of (WFTU) in Pakistan were also attended this International Seminar.
Mr Munir Qureshi Secretary Overseas Pakistani and Human Development Recourses Government of Pakistan Was the Chief Guest.
Haji Muhammad Saeed Arian Founder/Secretary General welcomed the participants and Leaders of the Affiliates Mr Sultan Muhammad Khan President (APLF), Mr.Aurangzab Durrani President (APFOL) Imtaiz Syed Pirzada President (APFUTU) Ch Tariq Javid President (PTWF) Malik Ali Umar Awan President (PNFTU) and Chief Guest and Specially Ms Alexandra Head of Press and Communication (WFTU) for her visit First time as representative of WFTU and Said that Pakistan has poor occupational safety and health (OSH) standards and their implementation is also very weak. Moreover, no effective independent legislation exists when it comes to OSH. The only major legislation addressing workers’ health and safety issues is the Factories Act, 1934, under which all the provinces are required to devise factories rules. However, the act itself is not applicable to small enterprises with less than ten employees. Moreover, it does not provide any coverage to agriculture sector, informal/house-based and seasonal workers. Most of the workers are not trained in OSH. OSH has also never been included in any curricula of the country. The number of occupational health physicians and nurses is far less compared to the total workforce, thereby reflecting poor implementation of the OSH system. Over the years, women‘s in rural and urban areas participation in economic activities has increased significantly. With the increase in women’s employment, their employment status has also improved. Most of the prevailing workplace health and safety laws are outdated, such as the Factories Act, 1934; Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923; Mines Act, 1923; Dock Laborers Act, 1934, etc. Most of these pre-partition era laws are still in practice. However, a few laws that came into being after partition include: Provincial Employees’ Social Security Ordinance, 1965; West Pakistan Shops and Establishments’ Ordinance, 1969 and Boilers and Pressure Vessels Ordinance, 2002. Although there is no significant legislation on women’s OSH issues in the country, it is heartening to see that Pakistan has ratified 36 ILO conventions, of which eight are of fundamental nature. Of these 36 conventions, 33 are in force, while three have been denounced and none of these 36 conventions have been ratified in the past 12 months. Under the current scenario, the Government needs to ensure effective implementation of the existing laws and revise these laws with special attention to women. It also needs to devise more legislation and provide unconditional safety to all the women workers from all kinds of occupations in the country. As a large proportion of women were associated with the agriculture sector, the number of injuries was relatively higher in this sector against other industrial sectors. For example, almost 88.2 percent of the injured women belonged to the agriculture sector in 2010-11 from 71.2 percent in 2001-02, while 7.1 percent in 2010-11 from 14.7 percent in 2001-02 in the manufacturing industry, and 1.8 percent in 2010-11 from 9.1 percent in 2001-02 in the community and social services sector.
Interestingly, as per the employment status, unpaid family helpers suffered the most injuries from 41.4 percent in 2001-02 to 87.7 percent in 2010-11 (an alarming increase), while employers were the safest as only 0.4 percent of them faced injuries in 2001-02 and none in 2010-11. The second largest group that faced the most injuries at work was self-employed or own-account workers, with 31.2 percent in 2001-02 and only four percent in 2010-11. This clearly reflects a huge decline in the number of injuries at work due to effective implementation of safety measures. In addition, employees’ share of injuries stood at 27.0 percent in 2001-02, which was also significantly reduced to 8.3 percent in 2010-11. With regard to the treatment received by injured staff, only 9.9 percent of the total injured women were hospitalized Almost 51.5 percent of them consulted a doctor in 2001-02 and 27.9 percent in 2010-11. Similarly, almost 15.4 percent took a leave of absence due to work-related illness or injury in 2001-02 but this ratio increased to 57.5 percent in 2010-11. In contrast, those who took no measures no treat their injuries stood at almost 23.2 percent in 2001-02 and 9.4 percent in 2010-11. According to the Labour force survey 2003-04, there are several causes of injuries at work but the most important ones include: long hours, use of defective tools, working in an unsafe environment and opting to undertake a task beyond one’s physical capacity. The country’s dismal OSH record is a wake-up call for the government. It is imperative that the government formulates new laws and implements them in letter and spirit to address the prevailing OSH crisis.
Occupational safety and health in Construction industry
Construction is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world, incurring more occupational fatalities than any other sector in all over the World, the fatal occupational injury rate among construction workers in the world very high the most common causes of fatal and non-fatal injuries among construction workers. Proper safety equipment such as harnesses and guardrails and procedures such as securing ladders and inspecting scaffolding can curtail the risk of occupational injuries in the construction industry. Due to the fact that accidents may have disastrous consequences for Workers as well as organizations, it is of utmost importance to ensure health and safety of workers. International Labor Organization has a "Guidelines on occupational safety and health management systems” and to assist organizations with introducing OSH management systems. These Guidelines encourage the improvement for workers health and safety.
The ILO management system was created to assist employers to keep pace with rapidly shifting and competitive industrial environments. The ILO recognizes that national legislation is essential, but sometimes insufficient on its own to address the challenges faced by industry, and therefore elected to ensure free and open distribution of administrative tools in the form of occupational health and safety management system guidance for everyone.
Safety at Workplace
The only practical way to promote occupational safety and health (OSH) and to ensure that the international and national bodies concerned have the necessary human and financial resources is to incorporate the rights to OSH . Which are rights to life .into the fundamental Conventions and rights of the ILO. The objective of a national policy and a national system for OSH must be to promote and implement several principles, including access of workers and their representatives to information on risks and preventive measures, risk analysis, training in prevention, an independent preventive service and the implementation of measures to reduce risks to the greatest extent possible The objective of the ILO Convention and Recommendation should be to raise awareness, to foster high-level political commitment and to promote the right of workers to a safe and healthy working environment at Work place ILO Convention on OSH will help to raise levels of OSH in All over world and play a positive role in controlling and minimizing work-related injuries. The Convention and Recommendation should be promotional and not regulatory, as this will be conducive to better ratification and adoption by member States, thus placing OSH high on the national agenda. As the proposed texts emphasize, governments must consult with representative organizations of workers and employers on OSH as well as gaining the active participation of enterprises and workers. This is important in settling OSH matters effectively and providing better protection of workers Legal rights to safety and health at workplace. We can raise awareness of prevention of Accidents through Education, Training and promotional activities. Political commitment to the implementation of a national OSH policy and national programmes should come from the highest level of leadership, to give effect to international Conventions and reduce occupational risks. The implementation of programmes and compliance with OSH legislation should be encouraged through good quality systems including tripartite consultation, using incentives such as exoneration of taxes and through coordination With insurance schemes.
Ms Alexandra Lympen Head of Press and Communication World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) said that According to ILO (International Labor Organization) every year more than 2 million people die from occupational accidents and diseases in the world. The occupational safety conditions vary enormously between countries, economic sectors and social groups. Developing countries have more fatal occupational accidents than developed countries because of the inferior working environments. The developed countries provides better health care facilities, safe working environment, proper trainings about their occupations and health as well as ensure participation of workers in decision making process on health and safety issues as compare to workers of developing countries. Due to unsafe working condition developing countries have more than 80% of global burden of occupational diseases and injuries.
Ch Tariq Javid President Peoples Trade Union Workers Federation said That Pakistan is a developing country; with a very low rate of industrial growth and most of the Labour working in Pakistan belongs to unskilled class of workers. According to a survey about 44 percent of Labour belongs to the agriculture sector and 56 percent to industrial sector. Mostly the work performed in an industrial process in Pakistan is Semi mechanized and with very low level of precautions, informal training culture, low rate of literacy and safety measures on work place the ratio of occupational accidents is on the higher side. It is due to these four main causes a workman in Pakistan has a very limited professional life and is prone to risks of accidents that may lead to terminal illness or death.
Sultan Muhammad Khan President All Pakistan Labour Federation said that : safety measures taken by workers at work. Often worker working on Mines plants and heavy machines are unaware of hazards may due to lazy and ill-discipline nature of their approach towards technical trade. At times precautions are not taken due to pressures of ill time management and production run pressures etc. On average in Pakistan every year 90 workers died. in Mines Working conditions of mine workers, particularly coal mines, are very poor. The severe lack of safety measures in these mines cause widespread deaths every year. Government agencies have not been able to stop accidents because of very poor physical and technical standards observed by small and medium mines.
Imtiaz Syed Pirzada Secretary General All Pakistan Federation of United Trade Unions said that due to lack of formal training culture and non availability of Skills development centers in specialized areas, no formal technical education at elementary level of education and non-practical approach towards acquiring skills and a perception of the society as a whole to violate basic civil law ethics is an important cause of mishaps at workplace. Learning the art from father or making a skill family profession is the main obstacle to train in changing and challenging work conditions. Unfortunately in Pakistan skilled workforce is not due respected instead employers often weighs skills with money (cost factor) so real job-satisfaction at the workman exists and the workman himself is reluctant to train with proper define objectives.
Aurangzab Durrani President All Pakistan Federation of Labour (APFOL) said that In Pakistan large numbers of illiterate workers are informally employed in construction, mining, and agriculture sectors, and majority of them are females and children. The incidence of injuries and accidents are very high in informal sector. In Pakistan Children work in carpet making, garages, welding, shoeshine, garbage collecting, fresh flower sales, and the chemical sector. Most children working in garages use petrol as the solvent to clean auto parts. Inhalation and skin absorption of petrol fumes pose multiple health hazards such as depression, low red cell counts, de-fatting of skin and even cancer due to benzene in the petrol.
Mrs Atia Saleem Chairperson Pakistan Labour Federation (PLF) said that to ensure healthy work place the owner of industry must established policies, educate their workers, provides trainings to workers regarding Disaster management and recovery. First aid treatment, periodic medical examination of workers. Proactive strategies for emergencies and system of identifying hazards and removes them. The Employer should provide workers personal protective equipments and health facilities such as; professional staff of physician and nurses, proper compensation and risk mitigation allowances and incentives for disciplines workers performance. The Government in this regard should come up with strong policy for safety measures at work place and should enforce in an effective manner the relevant enactments of Labor Laws and should amend the vulnerable areas. She expressed concern over the poor conditions of occupational health and safety in the industrial sector and has said that Government should ensure efficient Labour inspection mechanisms in the provinces.
Waheed Ahmad Ch Advocate Legal Advisor (PLF) pointed out that in Pakistan the situation of occupational health and safety is fast deteriorating and there is no independent legislation on health and safety except the Hazardous Occupation Rule 1963 under the Factories Act 1934. Practically, the above mentioned laws are obsolete and do not conform to international practices. He also pointed out that the Punjab Government imposed a ban on Labour inspection in 2002 and the present provincial Government kept this ban intact despite repeated demands by the Labour Rights bodies and even by the former provincial Labour Minister Ashraf Sohna. The Punjab Government s refusal to restore Factories Inspection is a case of violation of the constitution and the country s Labour Laws as well as the Fundamental Rights of the industrial workers. It is also a violation of the ILO Convention C-81.and Human Rights by the state itself.
Mrs Shumlia Sadiq Secretary Women Wing said that Health and safety is the fundamental constitutional right guaranteed to the worker under Article 37(e) in the Constitution of Pakistan that makes provision for securing and humane conditions of work. Approximately 75 percent employed Labour force is employed within informal sector, while a vast majority of workers are employed in mining, textile, pharmaceutical, consumer products and other major industries on contract basis. The contract system makes it difficult to identify the actual employer. Hence there is a need for special legislation for the employed workers to ensure the provision of relevant rights and entitlements including social protection and occupational safety at work.
Malik Munir Ahmad Vice President (PLF) and President Pakistan Para Medical Staff Association (PPMA) Said that Pakistan has ratified the ILO Labour Inspection Convention, 1947 (No. 81) in 1953. Under this convention Pakistan is bound to educate and inform Employers and workers on their Legal Rights and obligations concerning all aspects of Labour protection and Labour Laws, advice Employers and workers to comply with the requirements of the Law and enable inspectors to report to superiors on problems and defects that are not covered by Laws and regulations.
Gul Muhammad President (PLF) Baluchistan Said that The Government has not ratified ILO Convention 155 on Occupational Safety and Health and Convention 187 of promotional framework for Occupational Safety and Health.
Munir Qureshi Secretary Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resources Development Government of Pakistan said that Occupational safety and health is an area concerned with protecting the safety, health and welfare of Workers engaged in work or employment. The goals of occupational safety and health programs include to foster a safe and healthy work environment. OSH may also protect co-workers, family members, employers, customers, and many others who might be affected by the workplace environment.
(Haji Muhammad Saeed Arian)
Founder/Secretary General (PLF)