Marking this year’s World Occupational Safety and Healthy Day (OSH Day) on 28 April, celebrated by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) is conducting a series of programs to enhance the knowledge on occupational safety and health (OSH) in the private sector, aligned with this year’s global theme – ‘Optimise the collection and use of OSH Data’.
“Although the enactments such as Factories Ordinance, Workmen’s Compensation Ordinance, Women and Young Persons, Shop & Office Employees Act, National Environment Act, provide certain regulations governing OSH there is no specific legislature governing OSH directly in countries like ours. Hence it is essential to promote the concept in an industrial environment where rapid growth is expected,” noted EFC Senior Industrial Relations Advisor Chameel Perera, in a recent press release.
The importance of maintaining data in relation to OSH is highlighted in the Factories Ordinance to the extent where the Department of Labour can intervene into OSH related issues in an organisation. However, as Perera points out, apart from adhering to the provisions of the above enactment, our employers have adopted best practices in OSH due to the compliance requirements and the awareness programs conducted by various parties especially the EFC and the ILO and the Department of Labour.
Part 10 of the Factories Ordinance No. 45 of 1942 stipulates provisions with regard to maintenance of all registers and all other information, in relation to OSH. In this context it is expected that the employer would maintain registers in relation to separate activities such as incidents, accidents, dangerous occurrence and industrial diseases which covers a vast aspects of OSH. It is also important to maintain data in relation to investments made in various aspects to enhance or maintenance OSH in organisations.
“Maintenance of data in the above manner contributes to the development of key areas in an organisation such as Safety, Productivity and Quality which will eventually enable the employer to maintain a better environment for workers. This will also have a positive effect on the image of the organisation,” says the Senior Industrial Relations Advisor.
In order to achieve the above, it is of significant importance for the employer to maintain data in relation to OSH in the respective organisation. This data should not be only limited to recording of incidents and diseases but also extend to other investments and the activities made to improve to OSH situations at the work place.
As part of this year’s OSH related programs, the EFC has organised an Occupational Safety and Health Awareness Program for 40 university students on 17 May. The visit, as Perera explains, is fully sponsored by the EFC and its member Polytex Garments Ltd., and aspires to provide the students with insights into best OSH practices at workplace. The special audit of ‘Compliance +’ EFC has introduced also promotes best practices of OSH at workplace, he notes.
“Healthy workforce is a blessing and results in higher productivity and performance. The interest in OHS among various groups including customers, labour institutions, national/international labour forums, NGOs, trade unions etc. has also influenced manufacturers positively to align their practices with OHS standards and provide more safe work conditions,” remarks Polytex Garments Ltd. Regional CSR Manager Roshan Junkeer.
A member of the global apparel giant, Esquel Group, Polytext Garments with its 37-year-old footprint in Sri Lanka, has in place, progressive and comprehensive health and safety programmes for the protection of all its employees, contractors and visitors in all working settings as it CSR Manager explains. “We continuously improve our health and safety standards to achieve and maintain the Esquel’s core values. All our managers and supervisors ensure that the employees under their direction understand and adhere to safety and occupational health requirements,” says Junkeer.
Commending EFC’s efforts in urging organisations to have best practices of OSH in place and upgrading them constantly, Junkeer says: “The compliance+ program initiated by the EFC has been supporting the organisations to identify the potential for improvements for effective OHS practices at work place by means of assessments, training and consultation.” He also noted that these interventions by the EFC have helped uplift work place working conditions.