Posted on November 9, 2018
This October, ADAO was given the honor of attending and participating in the 2018 African Conference on Occupational Health and Safety in Ghana. The conference, which was hosted by the Ministry of Employment and Labor Relations, invited stakeholders from nearly 10 different countries to speak on the conference’s theme, “Safe and Healthy Work Culture for Sustainable Development.”
In keeping with this theme, my keynote address “Asbestos Prevention in the 21st Century: Lessons Learned from the Frontlines,” focused on the important roles that education and awareness have in preventing exposure to asbestos in the workplace. My presentation also touched on ADAO’s fight for a no-exemption ban in the United States and highlighted our recent legal action against the Environmental Protection Agency.
With more than 300 industry, government, and occupational health professionals in attendance, it is clear that Ghana and the nations of Africa recognize the importance of occupational health and safety in creating a vibrant future for their people.
The road to this future is spearheaded by the launch of Ghana’s National Vision Zero Campaign which is designed to improve safety, health, and wellbeing at work by “engaging enterprises worldwide to systematically cut down on occupational accidents and diseases by investing in a healthy and motivated workforce.”
When I asked about the importance of this conference to Vision Zero; Emily Akuma, conference leader for the campaign launch, had this to say:
“Ghana like other African Countries, are turning to a path of industrialization and with this comes varying risks to the working population…The purpose [of the conference] is to advocate for and begin the processes for setting up the right framework and structures to promote the safety, health and wellbeing of the working population. This without a doubt ties in to the global vision zero campaign developed by ISSA; that is why we launched it at National level at the conference.”
Experts have high hopes for the success of the campaign, hopes which were wonderfully expressed by CEO of the Nigerian based Occupational Health and Safety managers Ltd., Ehi Iden:
“The overall result of our collective actions will lead to a strong health
and safety awareness across African States and the adaptation of Vision
Zero 7 Golden Rules in our work processes with great expectations for
improved health and safety outcomes.”
Alan Stevens, Head of Global Engagement and Partnerships at IOSH, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, said:
“It was inspiring to see the energy, passion, commitment and focus at the inaugural African Conference on Occupational Safety and Health in Ghana, and I commend the conference organisers and hosts, the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, for the event’s strong focus on prevention of harm. This is something IOSH is dedicated to pursuing through our international work and through our No Time to Lose campaign to tackle occupational cancer. I was delighted to meet up again with fellow speaker Linda Reinstein from ADAO, who is a supportive partner in global efforts to eliminate the risks worldwide of exposure to asbestos.”
Enthusiasm was high and I was especially happy to meet over 50 students who were eager to begin the effort of making workplaces across their country safer and I look forward to collaborating with them in the future. We were also thrilled to connect with Alan Stevens of IOSH during the event.
Attending international conferences gives us the opportunity to discuss new, innovative ways of improving health and wellbeing in the workplace. We are always looking to learn new methods for pushing Congress to institute a ban on asbestos and it is the examples of our peers that help strengthen our fight at home.
For that reason, I wish to thank the Ministry of Employment and Labor Relations and my fellow speakers for working tirelessly to make the event the success it was. ADAO is extremely honored to have taken part in the African Conference on Occupational Health & Safety and we look forward to continued collaboration with world leaders in workplace and environmental safety.
Together, we are making change possible.