New Policy to Ensure Labour Safety

The policy which is now under a draft stage will be implemented along other existing legal frameworks.

The Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions has tabled a draft policy document concerning labour safety in work places. The Union already finalized the policy entitled “Labour Safety & Health Protection” for final approval.

The policy comes in the midst of a rash of occupational injuries, especially in construction sites because of poor safety precautions. Just two weeks ago, a safety incident at a construction site took the lives of four workers.

“Such incidents, whether reported or unreported, are becoming alarming,” said Muluneh Dessalegne, head of the Industrial Relations & Organization department at the confederation.

In its preamble, the policy document preamble sates that given the low employment options, and some employers’ single minded focus on profits irrespective of labour safety, labourers are prone to a number of safety and health risks.

Latest reports show that the Confederation has close to 1,300 member. The unions have membership of close to half a million workers.

The draft document indicates that reporting mechanisms in cases of accidents are poor. Moreover, even if there are lists of workplace health concerns, there is no means of controlling and inspecting vulnerabilities.

At the moment only three percent of private and public organizations report accidents to the confederation. These organizations are those that have allowed workers to form unions.

“The only channel we have is the unions,” says Muluneh. “We have no information on what has happening to employees who work in companies and factories with no unions.”

Although there is a legal framework in place by the Ministry of Labour & Social Affairs that mandates companies to form health and safety committees, most organizations do not follow the law, according to the report.

A small survey conduct in 2016 by Sebsibe Tadesse and Dagnachew Israel found out that the prevalence of injury among building construction employees was reported 38.8pc in the past year.

The majority of the injuries occurred while not using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The common types of injuries were 66.3pc cuts (66.3pc) and falls (28.5pc). Nearly half of the incidents were leg injuries followed by injuries to hands and fingers. The major reason behind the injuries was a lack of safety awareness, according the study.

A study done by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) revealed that developing countries like Ethiopia are more vulnerable to occupational injuries.

The draft policy mentions that there is no comprehensive list of companies that have to give insurance guarantees to their workers. These kinds of gaps pose a challenge to an overall understanding and prevention of workplace injuries.

The proposed policy is expected to serve as a blue print for the amendment of the existing policy as well as the introduction of new legislation.

It will also provide a mandate to organizations to allocate budgets to ensure the health and safety of their employees. It will give directions on how to enforce the insurance guarantees for all vulnerable occupations.

“The policy will be approved in the next few weeks,” said Mulunhe.


Published on Dec 27,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 869]



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