Call to ensure safety measures at workplaces

KARACHI: The fire incident of Baldia Town Garment Factory was revisited in a highly effective presentation by Director Wajahat Ullah Khan of Fire Protection Association of Pakistan. Recalling the incident which occurred on 11th September, 2012 at M/s Ali Enterprises, the presenter identified the causes of the fire and solution to avoid such incidents.

Secretary Labour, Government of Sindh, reiterated the efforts of the Sindh government to make the workplaces hazard free. He informed about the actions taken to form an effective inspection team to check the compliance of safety and health standards by the factory owners. The inspectors will also identify the weaknesses observed during inspections.

He referred to the Joint Action Plan prepared by ILO after tripartite consultation to improve safety and health conditions at the enterprise level throughout Sindh. The Joint Action Plan is being implemented by Sindh government and the most important issue at present is the development of OSH Policy.

Bukhari, Senior Program Officer, ILO Islamabad, informed about the actions being taken by ILO in support of the Decent Work Country Programme. Referring to the Joint Action Plan, he thanked the partners and the constituents of ILO in making it possible to come up with a document which is now to be implemented by Sindh government and other partners.

He appreciated the efforts of the Employers Federation of Pakistan in promoting OSH management system at the workplaces through seminars and best practices awards.

Earlier, while welcoming the guests, President Employers Federation of Pakistan, Nauman referred to the theme of the year 2014 for the International Day on Safety and Health and stated that “Safety and Health in the use of chemicals” takes precedence as most accidents occur or aggregated because of the presence of chemicals at the workplace. He said there have been accidents on regular basis in the factories where chemicals are used. We need to focus on it. This year inspectors visiting companies may specially watch for the safety measures taken where chemicals are used or sorted. This includes the awareness to be provided to workers regarding handling, markings and proper methods of usage of chemicals.

Employers’ Federation of Pakistan with the support of ITC-ILO and DECP is soon to start International Certificate Training Programs on OSH for the Line Managers, Supervisors and Workers by the ITC-ILO Certified Trainers.

KM Nauman also referred to the Pakistan National Business Agenda identifying 17 issues which are much concerned to the business and addressing them should be a priority issue for the governments. He said government was trying to address some of the important issues like energy crises and law and order situation but the progress was slow. He said employers are facing numerous problems due to world pressure on Pakistan business in the context of workplace safety.

Zahoor Awan, General Secretary, Pakistan Workers Federation, was of the view that we should learn from experiences of the tragic fire of M/s Ali Enterprises where more than 200 people died a tragic death, though we are in the process of making our monitoring rules and regulations. Zahoor appreciated the signing of MOU and stressed that now it should be implemented. He further added that some laws should be made regarding OSH. In the end    Zahoor thanked Employers Federation of Pakistan and ILO.

Other speakers highlighted the importance of safety and health included WHO representative Javed Akhter Shaikh, ILO representative Amin Al- Wreidat, Zahoor Awan, General Secretary, Pakistan Workers Federation and others.

Employers Federation of Pakistan also held the 9th EFP award ceremony for the best practices in OSH&E. The Best Practices Trophy was won by Sui Southern Gas Company, followed by Pakistan International Container Terminal Limited and Pakistan Petroleum Limited receiving the 2nd and the 3rd Best Practices Trophies.

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