Monday April 28 2014

Many Ugandans dying of occupational hazards - govt

State minister for Labour Mwesigwa Rukutana

State minister for Labour Mwesigwa Rukutana speaks at the commemoration of the World Day on Occupational Health and Safety in Kampala yesterday. PHOTO BY Racheal Ajwang 

By Farahani Mukisa

The number of Ugandan workers dying of occupational related-hazards is increasing at an alarming rate, the State Minister for Labour, Mr Mwesigwa Rukutana, has said.

Mr Rukutana said whereas there was no clear indicative figures in Uganda to portray a clear image of the fact, the global figures were sufficient to provide what is happening in the developing worlds – Uganda inclusive.

“At least 5,500 people die every day in the world due to occupational-related diseases. In Uganda, the situation is not different, although there are no figures to quantify this due to employers’ unreliable reports,” Mr Rukutana said in his speech at the commemoration of the World Day on Occupational Health and Safety in Kampala yesterday.

A report released by the International Labour Organisation indicates that at least 30 million people worldwide are victims of the diseases.
In Uganda, the day was marked under the theme; “Zero accidents and zero diseases at workplace.”

The minister warned companies in the country to improve the working conditions of their employees before the ministry cracks a whip on them.
Mr Stanley Kaggwa, the vice chairperson of National Organisation of Trade Union, said Chinese companies have the worst working conditions unlike in the past where Indian-owned factories were blamed.

“We appreciate the fact that many Ugandans are getting jobs, but what kind of jobs is a key question every employer in the country must put into consideration because my ministry is going to be very vigilant this year on workers’ rights,” he said.
Mr Kaggwa said the Occupational Safety and Health Act requires every company to have safety committees and labour unions to help workers address occupational related hazards, however, he noted most companies do not have these key bodies.