Southern Africa: Unions secure OHS to prevent future health risks to workers

With support from 3F, the BWI Africa and Middle East region hosted a two-day hybrid occupational health and safety training on 7 and 8 September. The training focused on workplace inspections for Southern Africa Construction Unions which was facilitated by Mike Coen and officiated by BWI Regional Representative Crecentia Mofokeng.

During the workshop, the participants reiterated the importance of adhering to occupational health and safety standards, especially when workers in the construction sector bear the brunt of extreme weather conditions onsite. Through BWI’s ‘Heat Up Worker’ Rights, Not The Planet’ climate change campaign, affiliates made reports citing heat rashes and strokes, eye irritations, and water-borne diseases like malaria from pools of rainwater, among others. It was deemed necessary to strengthen the SACONET affiliates’ ability to identify existing and new risks (including biohazardous dangers) in workplaces and identify strategies that must be adopted to preserve workers’ overall physical and mental well-being. 

The workshop also provided network affiliates with the opportunity to align their workplace inspection procedures and reporting to the current workplace needs with the view of preventing and eliminating future health risks at work. The trade unionists said that the fight for workplace safety across Africa continues and affiliates in Southern Africa are committed to taking the lead. “It is our duty to define and push the ‘OHS theory’ on behalf of those who have mandated us to attend this workshop. If we fail in this respect, we not only fail workers in our sectors today, we also risk failing them in the foreseeable future,” said Thandi Mupani, a participant from CLAWUZ Zimbabwe.