Thursday, June 13, 2024

80 miners risk losing their jobs in Northwestern province

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Over 80 miners in North-Western Province are expected to be discharged from work on medical grounds after suffering from backache because of operating the big machines.

And Minister of Labour and Social Security Brenda Tambatamba said the growth and technological advancement of industrial activities come with its own hazards which lead to occupational injuries and diseases.

Zambia National Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) Vice President Joseph Chewe confirms that in the last one year, about 80 miners have been put on pending medical discharge as a result of occupational accidents.

Speaking during the opening of the Occupational Safety and Health Institute (OHSI) centre in Solwezi on Thursday, Mr. Chewe appealed to the Occupational Safety and Health Institute (OHSI) and government agencies to thoroughly establish why many miners are being declared medically unfit for duty.

“There is a report which has reached the union that over 80 miners are on pending medical discharge because of backaches in North-Western Province and these are the operators who work on those big machines.

“Why is this happening and what are the causes because workers cannot be let go from work place because of the backaches and so we need the doctors to tell us because we are going to lose more workers,” Mr Chewe said.

Mr. Chewe, who is also Mine workers Union of Zambia (MUZ)  President,  further  appealed to the OHSI to intervene because workers have a right to enjoy good health even after leaving employment.

And Minister of Labour and Social Security Brenda Tambatamba said the growth and technological advancement of industrial activities come with its own hazards which lead to occupational injuries and diseases.

Ms. Tambatama called upon the institute to devise innovative ways of improving service delivery in occupation health and safety to enhance productivity.

“It is therefore undisputable fact that the location of OHSI office in Solwezi is timely as it will guarantee safety and health of employees at work places,” Ms Tambatamba said.

The ministry is currently working towards the amendment of the Occupational Health and Safety Act number 36 of 2010 to ensure that the health and safety of workers in all industries are covered to contribute to improved productivity.

“Additionally, my ministry is in the process of formulating regulations under the Act for effective enforcement of the provisions of the Act for the very first time since its enactment in 2010,” Ms Tambatamba said.

Earlier, OHSI director Martha Chakulimba said the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has recognized occupational health and safety services as the fundamental of the workers which should be an objective of every employer to achieve a productive workforce.

Ms. Chakulimba said the institute is critical to the development of the country not only to the mining sector because of the silicosis services but to all sectors of the economy.

And OHSI board chairperson Grace Chibwa said  opening of the Solwezi centre is a step in the right direction and will contribute to the economic growth.

She said the Centre in the provincial capital is part of her board’s projects to open up more centres in various parts of the country.

Ms. Chibwa said the institute has so far trained 44 local doctors from various districts and 49 doctors from Malawi, Mozambique and Lesotho have also been trained at the centre of excellence in occupational health service in the country.

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