Zimbabwe recorded 63 work related deaths while 5364 people were injured at work places in 2016, government has said.
Speaking during the commemoration of World Day for Safety and Health, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare, Ngoni Masoka, said the figures are shocking and the safety of workers remain a focus area with the Ministry targeting zero percent fatality at workplaces.
Masoka added that more deaths go unrecorded due to unreliable data collection on work related accidents, diseases and occupational safety.
“There is need to improve recording, data collection, analysis and notification systems at not only a company level, but also at national level. This in turn will provide countries with more reliable indicators of the effectiveness of national OSH systems and help them in prioritizing which OSH concerns should receive the scarce resources,” said Masoka.
Figures show that in 2014, the country recorded 5736 injuries and 106 fatal accidents while a decrease in fatal deaths in 2015 (5380 injuries, 54 deaths) was recorded.
International Labor Organisation (ILO) country director, Ms Hopolang Phororo, said it is estimated that over 2.3 million people die due to work related accidents each year while more 300 million accidents causing injuries occur each year.
Phororo however bemoaned lack of accurate data capturing methods saying the figures do not reflect the magnitude of the problem nor the real impact of occupational health accidents and diseases on workers, families and economies.
She underlined the need to have measures in place to ensure that all sectors of the economy are aware of the importance of having such measures in place in order to improve occupational safety and health of workers.
“The ILO commends the Zimbabwean government which has done considerably well in management of occupational safety and health and notification of and recording of occupational accidents.
“It should however be emphasized that more work needs to be done in the face of a growing informal economy, which is exposed to various forms of decent work in deficits, including exposure to dust and hazardous chemicals in the respective informal industries,” she said.
Despite low industrial capacity utilisation, Zimbabwe has recorded over 17 500 work related injuries and 230 work related deaths since 2014.
National Social Security Authority (NSSA) Acting Board Chairperson, Daphne Tomana said the national statistics are far from inspiring.
She further stated that an unequivocal commitment is needed to make workplaces safe and healthy.
Tomana added that her board has already put in place systems for collecting and utilizing OSH data. These include collecting accident and occupational diseases statistics from workplaces that are insured with Workers’ compensation.
In spite of the significant strides which have been made, the national data collection systems remain fragmented.
For example, NSSA collects statistics only from workplaces that are insured with workers’ compensation while accidents in the formal sector and those involving domestic workers and civil service are collected by other entities and in some cases not collected at all.
This arrangement results in accidents from all sectors of the economy not being collate for purposes of using the data to design effective national interventions.