On the occasion of the International Workers Memorial Day, the Occupational Safety and Health Directorate of the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy of the Republic of Serbia awarded the Trade Union of Workers in Construction, Industry of Building Materials of Serbia, SGIGM, for its efforts and dedication in addressing health and safety issues at work place in the construction industry. The event took place in a packed hall of the theatre "Bosko Buha" in Belgrade, with participation of more than 300 guests from all parts of the society. Were present employers, trade unions, politicians, representatives of non-governmental organizations, government and international organizations, including the International Labour Organization (ILO) and other institutions.
To improve the safety measures at work, the Occupational Safety and Health Directorate introduced annual awards and plaques for the most safe enterprises, organisations and individuals who have contributed to raise awareness on the importance of working safely.
After receiving the 28 April plaque award, Dusko Vukovic, president of the union stated: “There is some progress in regulating the issues around health and safety and we as a union engage actively in collective bargaining with the aim to improve working conditions. It is now five years since our country ratified the ILO C167 on health and safety in construction industry and we can say that it helped in raising our health and safety standards. But, we need to continue our struggle. The Law on insurance against accidents and injuries at work is still not adopted and the numbers of fatal accidents and injuries remains a serious issue. The employers and workers play a key role in mitigating and preventing accidents at work. Most workplace injuries occur due to the negligence of the organisation and management of sites and we see that workers health and safety representative and committees can and should play a major role in this issue.”
The solution for achieving better health and safety is in more serious preventive activities of the Labour Inspection, trade unions and employers, because of the fact that a large number of injuries are caused by unqualified and untrained workers, poor site organisation and management from the side of employers. The SGIGM and other fraternal organisations in the region work actively on promoting health and safety at work trough joint cooperation and networking in PIPs, financed by development banks, like in the case of the Highway Corridor Projects.
Last year, in Serbia, labour inspectors conducted more than 16,000 controls in the area of health and safety at work which included nearly 270,000 employees. 26 criminal charges were filed against those violating the Law on Health and Safety and another 950 misdemeanour charges.
In 2013, 26 workers have lost their life in the workplace, 38 percent in the industry and 29 percent in construction.
There was extensive media coverage on the event as well as on issues related to occupational health and safety. SGIGM also presented its new video clip “You have only one life, you should guard it!”.