Let’s Celebrate the 2022 World Day for Safety and Health at Work
I am always keen on reflecting about Occupational health and safety on April 28th in honour of all the workers. It’s not only because it is my current profession, but also the idea that we spend a huge amount of our adult life in workplaces.
This year’s theme is : Act together to build a positive safety and health culture. At a glance this theme seems very straightforward . But having worked in this profession for more than 5 years I know how challenging it can be for employers to balance their core mandate while ensuring that their employees well-being is taken care of.
What it takes though, to build a positive safety culture is a commitment to a mindset that your employees are first of all human beings. This mindset supports the thinking that if you would not want any person to experience injuries or even die in circumstances that are preventable, you would put in place measures to prevent this.
On 25th March 2022, a young Kenyan man named Caleb Otieno met his untimely death while at work after he reportedly got entrapped in a steel boiler in a factory where he was working in Thika town. My imagination of the pain and helplessness he experienced could not be contained. I did not want to read anything more about that incident.
Such incidents are a reminder of the aims of marking the World Day for Safety and Health at work as set out by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2003. The overarching aim of this day is to promote the prevention of work-related injuries and deaths.
We need to change the mindset that informal sectors can be ignored since they are not ‘organized’ or that people who work on a casual basis cannot be protected. Such thought process allows us to desensitize ourselves from the need to agitate for better social protection for the marginalized and therefore increases the burden of occupational injuries and indeed death in the society
On this day, I urge all stakeholders, government agencies such as county governments, private sector organizations , and individual business owners to reflect on the idea that everyone deserves to get back home from work safe and sound. This small change of mindset can be a guiding light to building a positive safety and health culture in society.