Less than 1 out of 3 of the concerns the MoL assessed met health and safety standards

OHS: Of the 37 companies across the country that the labour ministry assessed this month for occupational health and safety (OHS) standards, only 10 were found adopting good practices in line with the OHS regulations.

At the Pasakha industrial estate, Phuentsholing, 12 industries were among the 37 assessed, of which only three were recognised for adopting good practices, scoring beyond 70 percent.  The three industries are Druk Wang Alloys ltd, Saint Gobain Ceramic Materials, and SKW- Tashi Metals & Alloys pvt ltd.  Along with the three industries at Pasakha, the rest – Larsen & Toubro ltd, Gammon India ltd, SD Eastern Bhutan Ferro-silicon pvt ltd, Army Welfare Project, Penden Cement Authority ltd, and Hindustan Construction company – were also certified.

However, Jai Prakash Associates, an Indian company working in two major hydropower projects in the country, failed to meet the OHS standards.

This was announced yesterday at Pasakha where industrialists joined labour ministry officials to commemorate “World Day for Safety and Health at Work,” themed join in building a culture of prevention on occupational safety and health.

Labour ministry’s director Jigme Thinley said, although it was a concern, the labour ministry would continue to mentor, educate, and provide trainings to help the organisations in adopting health and safety practices at workplaces.

Such evaluation and certification is a first-of-its-kind initiative in the country aimed at raising awareness in workplaces and safety through encouragement and recognition.  To further promote and motivate them, the organisations would be rewarded every year.  Awards would be issued to only those organisations demonstrating exceptional and outstanding achievements in health and safety.

Labour officials said assessments were conducted based on technical aspects followed by an interview with employees taking into consideration systems of OHS management, presence of emergency management and risk management, among others.  Workers were asked about company policies on health and safety at workplace.  Based on the nature of the work, the assessment process also required asking questions on types of personal protective equipment.

Most of the organisations, labour officials said lacked policy formation and implementation of OHS standards.

Labour secretary Pema Wangda said from July last year to date, about 34 work-related injuries were reported to the ministry. “The figure is grossly underestimated as many don’t report accidents despite the requirement as per the labour laws,” he said.

Despite the labour officials trying hard to promote health and safety measures at workplaces, Pema Wangda said creating a safe and healthy workplace was still an enormous challenge they faced. “The OHS standards is still perceived as a new concept in our country,” he said.

With regard to the remaining 27 organisations that failed to meet OHS standards, the labour secretary said the ministry would request them to reinforce and strengthen the current safety practices at workplaces.

By Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing