By: Deeba Shahnaz Akhter
Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) is a multidisciplinary field that shows concept of intended working culture, reflection of the essential value systems adopted by the organizations. This discipline has been defined by World Health Organization(WHO) and International Labour Organization(ILO) as “all aspects of health and safety in the workplace with strong focus on prevention of hazards, a state of complete physical, mental and social well being”. The main objectives include maintenance and promotion of workers’ health and working capacity, improvement of working environment and work to become conducive to safety and health, promotion of health and safety at workplace. This OSH culture is reflected in practice of the managerial systems, personnel policy, and principles for participation, training policies and quality management of the undertaking. Furthermore the OSH professionals are mainly responsible to evaluating working environment, developing, endorsing and encouraging practices that might prevent injuries and illness, providing OSH information to employers, employees and the public, providing medical examination and assessing the success of worker health programs.
Simply, Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) practice depends upon legislation, regulation, enforcement and incentive for compliance. This helps in developing professionalism amongst the workers and Safety Culture at workplace. It is pertinent to mention that all developed countries are also trying to promote OSH through different means like by providing subsidies, grants, financing, tax system incentives for OSH investments, workplace accidents insurance premium discounts for companies etc.
In Pakistan, the Hazardous Occupations Rules, 1963 under the Authority of Factories Act is a relevant legislation but unfortunately, there is no independent legislation on Occupational Safety and Health issues in the country. Various government organizations like National Institute of Labor Administration and Training, Directorate of Workers Education, Directorate of Dock Workers Safety (DDWS) and Central Inspectorate of Mines, Centre for Improvement of Working Conditions and Environment (CIWCE), are providing training, information and research facilities for promotion of safety health and better work environment at workplaces. Besides that, Punjab Emergency Service Rescue 1122 has started 6months OSH training course in Emergency Services Academy as partner organization of National Vocational Training Commission (NAVTEC) in accordance to Prime Minister Youth Skill Development Program for promoting Safety and Health Culture at workplaces.
Recently, the Professional Development Conference (PDC) has been organized by American Society of Safety Engineers (A.S.S.E) Pakistan Chapter on 28th July, 2017 at Serena Hotel Islamabad. The former Federal Minister for Petroleum and current Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was the Chief Guest of the event. Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Guest said this is necessary effort as safety is basic right of everyone, safety has to built in institutional process. He also referred oil tanker disaster and stressed upon identification of occupational hazards, and timely mitigation measures to prevent disasters. He also emphasized on applications of laws, positive role of media and education with absorption capacity of culture to address risks and efforts to mitigate occupational hazards. The representatives from ILO,NUST, Ministry of Planning Development and Reforms, Riphah International University, Ministry of Climate Change, Global Think Tank Network, Pakistan Engineering Council, OGCL, Labour department, and Attock oil refinery expressed their serious concerned about Occupational Health and Safety(OHS) legislation and regulations, issues roles and responsibilities of all respective institutes to promote workplace safety culture in Pakistan especially keeping in view the emerging need due to China Pakistan economic Corridor (CPEC) Project .All speakers emphasized on OHS legislation, regulatory framework at federal level and need to understand the issue holistically to introduce educational program to change unsafe behavior of society. All participants /professionals highlighted need of the following for developing OSH culture at workplace:
- Formulation of strong and specific OHS legislation, regulations at Federal level which is already included in Pakistan Labour Policy 2010.
- National OHS policy needs to be formulated.
- Establishment of National OHS Council comprising of representative from industries and professionals.
- Training institution must be linked with industry.
- Consultation with Academia for degree program in OHS.
- Designing and development of curriculum for school education.
- Capacity building of institutions and organizations.
- Strict compliance of already existing local laws covering OHS in any form.
Although raising awareness on this subject is a great contribution but understanding of this issue at National level for National level Policy, Legislation, and necessary steps would help all provinces to standardize safe practices and promotion of Occupational Health and Safety at workplaces in Pakistan. May Allah give us strength to contribute in true letter and spirit for prevention of emergencies and promotion of safety in all walk of lives.