The Right Of Workers To A Safe And Healthy Workplace

Last October 17, 2000, an express train travelling from London to Leeds was derailed south of the Hatfield Station. According to investigations, the accident was due to a fractured rail which shattered when the train passed at 115 miles per hour. The accident resulted into 4 fatalities and 102 injuries.

The faulty rail was already spotted 21 months before the accident but it was not repaired even if a replacement rail was already delivered 6 months before. The company was fined £10 million after the judge declared the accident as the worst example of a sustained negligence in a high-risk industry.

Pakistan has experienced scores of more serious train accidents over the past 70 years. Investigations were done but after declaring the driver or signalman guilty, they never considered to dig deeper into the system to find out what went wrong. In Pakistan, safety is synonymous to waiting for an accident to happen for the guilt to be blamed and compensations announced. In 70 years, there was no health and safety system created for the 56 million adult workers, 13 million child workers and 1.7 million bonded labour.

Pakistan’s workplaces are considered as death-traps. The Factories Act is 100 years old and it continues to be the basis for the laws on health and safety. The document is out-of-date, misleading, and inadequate. The scope is limited to factories and does not cover all the individuals at the workplace. There are no laws covering electrical safety, responsibility of employers and employees, joint health and safety committees, health and safety representatives, training and other work-related issues.

According to the latest data, Pakistan has 546 labour inspectors for 327,706 factories. Most of the inspectors have inadequate training and they lack the qualification for the implementation of health and safety laws. What Pakistan needs is to make a formal OSHA system mandatory to reduce workplace accidents and save lives.

Health and safety systems are very important in the workplace particularly for businesses that have manufacturing and production facilities. To make sure that the system works effectively and efficiently, a company needs health and safety specialists to design the system according to the requirements of the workers as well as the workplace.