Symposium highlights occupational health and safety

The importance of occupational health and safety (OHS) was re-emphasised at a symposium at the Divine Word University’s Madang campus on Wednesday 11th September, 2013.

Two government department secretaries were among those that highlighted the importance of OHS during the 2nd National Occupational Health and Safety Symposium staged by the Environmental Health Department of the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Secretary for the Department of Labour and Industrial Relations (DLIR), Mr George Vaso said the Government is committed towards reinforcing the National Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Policy across all industries in the country.

Mr Vaso made the statement in his keynote address to students and staff of DWU and other participants at the symposium.

He said the revised National OHS Policy will be incorporated with the existing OHS legislation for the purpose of administration, enforcement and compliance.

Mr Vaso said this will act as regulating machinery under the PNG Structural Adjustment Program at minimum social cost developed by the DLIR with assistance from the International Labor Organization (ILO).

He said while there may be constraints in fully implementing such a new policy it can still be used as a guideline for decision making in the future.

“Successful implementation of programs and tasks would reflect the overall effectiveness, efficiency and practicality of the various OSH practices at work,” Mr Vaso said.

He noted that OHS practices at work can be adequately implemented through the collective efforts of both the employers and workers and all fatal accidents and incidents to be reported to DLIR for analysis at the national level for further actions.

The Secretary for the Department of Health, Mr Pascoe Kase who also attended the symposium reiterated the government’s support in addressing OSH through his department.

“Through the Healthy Island Concept, the Department (of Health) has emphasised on Occupational Health and Safety,” he said.

Mr Kase said while the country acknowledges many underlying issues relating to OHS, all stakeholders need to take ownership and address them according to their capacities.

“I convey the government’s full support in promoting occupational health,” Mr Kaso told the symposium.

The symposium was hailed a success as it was well attended by participants from various organisations including the government agencies and mining companies such as Newcrest Mining Limited, Harmony Gold Limited and Ok Tedi Mining Limited. The 2nd Occupational Health and Safety Symposium is among several such gatherings hosted by the DWU’s faculties and their departments in recent weeks. The others included the annual Business Ethics Symposium hosted by students from the Department of Business Studies of the Faculty of Business and Informatics and the human rights conference hosted by the Social Welfare and Religious Studies Department of the Faculty of Arts.