The current economic crisis should not be used as an excuse to neglect occupational safety and health issues in the workplace.

This is the view of Minister of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, who stressed that greater emphasis should be placed on reducing the risks of both physical and psychological workplace hazards.

Speaking today at the Coverley Medical Centre’s seminar on Occupational Safety and Health Concerns and the Economic Impact at the Accra Beach Hotel, she maintained that a safe and healthy work environment was even more critical during such tough economic times.

“Failure to maintain and develop a strong focus on good occupational safety and health is not an option…. Maintaining a safe working environment is even more important during challenging economic periods because it can be the mechanism for protecting and promoting better health in the workplace which could lead to increased productivity. A good safety culture is, therefore, a key factor in our economic growth and recovery.

“In order to achieve this, I recommend that we continue to commit to sound safety and health practices regardless of economic constraints and that we take these issues and the associated implications into account during restructuring and downsizing exercises and during consultations to ensure that workers’ representative organisations also participate in the shaping of appropriate polices and measures,” Dr. Byer Suckoo said.

The Labour Minister suggested that the private sector should adopt measures to maintain the psycho-social health of their employees who may be at risk of losing their jobs during restructuring exercises.

Dr. Byer Suckoo said employers must also be aware of the risk of increased work-related stress as a result of greater workloads and the uncertainty of the job market and employment status.

She reiterated Government’s commitment, through the cooperation of stakeholders, to providing safe and healthy working environments for employees, adding that the costs of occupational diseases and accidents should be of concern to all relevant parties.

“I urge you to recognise that prevention is less costly in the long run and to implement the necessary strategies and procedures to mitigate against these occurrences in the workplace,” Senator Byer Suckoo said.

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