Today is World Day for Safety and Health at work, a day set aside by the International Labour Organzation (ILO) to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally. This year’s event is themed on Stop the pandemic: Safety and health at work can save lives. The Bureau of Public Safety would like to use the opportunity to call on the Government through the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations to engage stakeholders to enforce the development, implementation and maintenance of a Covid-19 Confidentiality and Job Security Policy. This policy should enable employer testing of employees for the virus, and to protect the identity and job security of workers who get infected with the virus, and are lucky to recover to return to work. With the unfortunate emerging trend of stigmatization of Covid-19 patients, we further call on worker unions to collaborate with employers to institute programs to address stigmatization and the possible mental health and social consequences that the pandemic may have on workers.
Workplaces are effective platforms where employers and workers, together, can disseminate information and sensitize on Occupational Safety and Health (ILO, C. 155, Art. 19). The perennial call for the passage of the Bill on Occupational Safety and Health is even more relevant today than it was years back. We therefore reiterate the call on Government to pass this bill as government’s contribution to decent work which is essentially a human right issue globally. A current, relevant and working Occupational Safety and Health Bill should empower all stakeholders at the workplace to pursue a comprehensive wellbeing program that will ultimately build capacity at the enterprise level to support Government efforts in crisis situations such as disasters and pandemics in future.
Furthermore, the Bureau would join in the ILO’s call on employers to collaborate with employees to continue to pursue and apply prevention and protection measures such as physical distancing, work shifts, telework, downsizing operations, and other exposure-reducing measures, as well as options for conducting essential operations with a reduced workforce to reduce the spread of infectious diseases without compromising safety and health