HOSPERSA CALLS FOR OHS NATIONAL INTERVENTION
26 April 2017
The Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) calls on Government to address Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) compliance at its health facilities. The Union asks Government to establish a national authority to deal with all OHS contraventions in health sector and establish a national OHS policy that speaks directly to health care workers’ safety needs.
On 28 April 2017 as in previous years, Hospersa joins the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in raising awareness on Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) issues as part of World Day for Safety and Health at Work. This year the ILO focuses on the critical need for countries to improve their capacity to collect and utilise reliable OHS data.
“Hospersa welcomes this call as occupational injuries in South Africa are left severely unreported,” says Hospersa Occupational Health and Safety spokesperson, Fazeela Fayers. “Inadequate OHS compliance, outdated laws as well as inefficient systems for reporting occupational injuries and disease are the root cause of the under-reporting. This lack of reporting has lead to depreciating OHS standards where workers are often not compensated,” she added.
Hospersa has been campaigning around the improvement of OHS standards for health workers in public health facilities through various activities. On World TB Day, 24 March 2017, the Union embarked on a nationwide campaign to raise awareness on the high rate of tuberculosis (TB) amongst health care workers. It is estimated that health care workers are at a four to eight times’ higher risk of contracting TB than the general public. The World Health Organisation statistics revealed that South Africa accounted for 21% of the reported incidents yet fears that the situation could be worse as many cases do not get reported.
“We have been collecting signatures for a petition to the Department of Health (DoH) to address the OHS contraventions that are endangering health care workers lives and putting them at risk in contracting TB at work,” said Fayers. “With the petition, the Union demands government to adhere to the OHS and Infection Control policies as well as call for the inclusion of extra pulmonary TB in the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Disease Act,” she added.
Hospersa has also been at the forefront in calling for better protection of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) workers from the increasing attacks while responding to emergency calls. Earlier this year, the Union wrote to the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Health in Western Cape, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, to intervene in curbing the scourge of attacks in Cape Town red zones. The Union also wrote a similar letter through its federation, FEDUSA, to Minister [of Health, Dr Aaron] Motsoaledi for urgent intervention in addressing EMS workers safety concerns amid the increasing attacks.
“We are appalled by government’s relaxed approach in addressing the safety of EMS workers as there has been no measures taken against these rising attacks,” said Fayers. “Hospersa has called for a national intervention on this crisis where more than 100 attacks have been reported since last year,” added Fayers.
Late last year, the Department of Labour issued the Department of Health (DOH) with a section 7 notice over the many OHS contraventions in public health facilities. The report showed dismal results from the first round of inspection where the overall compliance for the country was rated at 22%.
“The World Day for Safety and Health at Work affords both government and affected parties to reflect on all the OHS issues faced by workers on the ground,” said Fayers. “As a Union, we are concerned for our members who have to work in these conditions where compliance is not achieved,” added Fayers.
“Hospersa made key resolutions at its 2013 National Congress whereby we received a clear mandate from our members to address the various issues related to poor management and corruption, staff shortages and OHS [Occupational Health & Safety] – particularly in the public service,” said Fayers. “Aside from the under-reported TB cases and the scourge of attacks on paramedics, many public health facilities are in a poor physical state which puts workers lives in danger from roof collapses and damaged walls,” added Fayers.
“We remain steadfast in fighting for improved occupational health and safety of our members. We call on government to establish a national authority as well as the establishment of a national policy on OHS in order to ensure compliance is achieved at all health facilities” concluded Fayers.
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For interviews please contact Hospersa OHS spokesperson Fazeela Fayers on 082-654-1368.
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