Posted on October 1, 2018

This month, ADAO will have the privilege of participating in the 2018 African Conference on Occupational Health & Safety in Ghana. The conference, hosted by the Ministry of Employment and Labor Relations, will feature labor experts, health, safety and environment experts, local organizations and others speaking on the conference’s theme, “Safe and Healthy Work Culture for Sustainable Development.”

ADAO is honored to present at the conference and discuss the harms of asbestos exposure, new policy, means of prevention and steps being taken to ban asbestos.

Spotlighted in this year’s conference is the National Launch Vision Zero Campaign – a global campaign started by the International Social Security Association (ISSA) in 2017. The campaign is designed to improve safety, health, and wellbeing at work by “engag[ing] enterprises worldwide to systematically cut down on occupational accidents and diseases by investing in a healthy and motivated workforce.”

Ghana will become the third African country after Cote D’Ivoire and Nigeria to launch the campaign, which has seen over 1,950 companies and trainers sign up.

The three-day conference will feature International Safety and Health exhibitions, technical tours and various symposiams that cover the fight for a culture of prevention, challenges in occupational health and safety in Africa, and diversity in the workplace.

Special Guests of Honour and keynote speakers include President, Republic of Ghana, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and Hon. Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Republic of Ghana. Conference speakers include Alan Stevens, Head of Global Engagement & Partnerships for the U.K.’s Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, the world’s biggest workplace safety membership organization; Dennis Zulu, Country Director of the International Labour Organization; Hakeem Dickson, Director of Lagos State Safety Commission; and Dr. Dennis Addo of Claron Health in Ghana.

We are grateful to be among this esteemed panel of experts and look forward to discussing new, innovative ways at improving health and wellbeing in the workplace. Attending international conferences is important for ADAO, as we are always learning new methods for pushing Congress to institute a ban. The strategies and examples of our peers in other countries help strengthen our fight here at home.

During my keynote address, I will be discussing how prevention is the only cure for asbestos-related illnesses. With nearly 40,000 asbestos-related deaths in America each year, ADAO and other organizations have been fighting for a no-exemptions ban on the lethal carcinogen.

I will discuss ADAO’s latest effort to improve asbestos reporting. With five other environmental organizations, ADAO recently took legal action against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to do its job and protect Americans from this toxic substance. We’re calling on them to begin alerting the American people to the dangers of asbestos, to defend our Right to Know.

Asbestos is regularly found in the workplace, and although exposure is common in construction and contracting professions, it is not limited to it. In fact, the chemical is regularly found in schools, buildings with old infrastructure, and a wide variety of other community spaces. Large organizations have begun to identify the immense dangers of asbestos — and the financial burden of lawsuits stemming from its risks — and have stopped using the chemical to protect workers.  

Alan Stevens, IOSH Head of Global Engagement said: “Asbestos is banned in the UK and other countries for a good reason: it is dangerous. It is staggering to see how many people die from exposure to asbestos every year. That is well over 200,000 families suffering the devastation of lost loved ones. It is unacceptable for anyone in any workplace to be exposed to asbestos. We are calling on everyone, including employers, to do the right thing; to protect the people who work for them. IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign has an array of resources designed to assist employers put measures in place which protect their workforce. Find out more at www.notimetose.org.uk.”

Once again, ADAO is extremely honored to take part in the African Conference on Occupational Health & Safety and we look forward to collaborating with world leaders in workplace and environmental safety.

Linda Reinstein
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