Labor Minister, Cllr. Juah Lawson, has declared that the Ministry will soon begin inspection of workplaces in compliance with the Decent Work Bill recently passed by the National Legislature. This series of inspections are aimed at ensuring the health and safety of employees.
Making the declaration on April 28, in Monrovia at a program marking the celebration of the World Day for Safety and Health, Minister Lawson stressed the ministry’s hopes to ensure that injuries are prevented at workplaces and healthy conditions are maintained.
The minister said that for Liberians to realize the commitment of government to their welfare, the Ministry of Labor in line with law, must carry out rigorous labor inspections which should enhance the implementation of the Decent Work Act.
Minister Lawson acknowledged that “the health of a nation’s workforce is central to that nation’s overall prosperity, stability and security. She said it determines every aspect of the status of the nation, ranging from its national productivity to the long-term stability of its citizens—“and Liberia is no exception.”
She gave meanings of Occupational Safety and Health as a science of the prevention, recognition, evaluation, and control of hazards arising in or from the workplace that could impact the health and well-being of workers and, possisbly, their families, surrounding communities, and the general environment.
“As our country gradually meanders towards industrialization, through the expansion of private sector investment, let us all work towards predicting, preventing, and eliminating all forms of injuries at the workplace.
As we enhance social dialogue between workers and employers, let the tents of occupational health and safety take front stage in upholding the decent work philosophy. As we raise awareness in the ambiance of today’s celebration, let us all see the workers of Liberia as co-partners in the noble effort of national transformation, and provide them the needed safety and protective gears to keep them healthy and safe,” she added.
Also speaking at the occasion was National Fire Service Director, G. Warsuwah Barvoul, Sr., who stressed the need for health and safety plans to be spelled out in all concession agreements signed between the Government of Liberia and investors to protect Liberians from work-related accidents.
At the same time, He called on employers to ensure that health and safety procedures are displayed in all sections or departments at workplaces, to direct workers on the use of the gears provided them to avoid exposing themselves to injuries.
The celebration was organized by the West Africa Institute of Occupational Health and Safety with the theme: “Safety and Health in the Use of Chemicals at work.”
Poor working conditions in Liberia have claimed attention over the years. Some of the conditions include low-salaries and the lack of medical or insurance benefits, humiliating treatment, overtime without pay, and poor work environment.
These conditions have sparked a public outcry for some time now, with Liberian citizens calling on the National Legislature to pass the Decent Work Bill that spent years in the lower house.
It may be recalled that in 2011, a Lebanese national who worked at the Mamba Point Hotel, assaulted a Liberian and broke his tooth. Recently Liberian Journalists under the Reporters Association held a consultative dialogue to embark on managers and owners of media institutions to improve workers condition by adopting a collective bargaining regimen crafted by the Press Union of Liberia.
Prior to these events, strike actions had taken place in Firestone and other areas of work, controlled by foreign companies. At such sites, agreements signed with workers’ unions are in place to ensure good health and safety working conditions.