60 work-related injuries reported in the last two years in the country

While 35 business establishments in the country adhere to the standard Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) system in the country today, 26 do not.

An assessment for good OHS compliance in the country was first carried out in 2015. Only 10 out of 37 entities received Certificates of Recognition (CoR) then.

An entity has to score 70 percent and above to fall under the category of having standard patterns on safety at workplaces. In 2016, there were 26 business establishments that were awarded CoRs. This year’s safety standard has shot up to 57.38 percent compared to 47.27 percent in 2016 and 27.03 percent in 2015.

The status of OHS standards was announced yesterday in Phuentsholing where   the World Day for Safety and Health at Work was observed.

Today, there are 66 companies across the country that are registered as having safety committees. Five were not assessed because some had either shut down or were just incepted as establishments.

Around 468 workers were interviewed this year for the assessment.

Addressing the gathering, labour minister Ngeema Sangay Tshempo said that between 2015 and 2016, the ministry recorded 60 work-related injuries in the country.

“Unfortunately, many work-related injuries remain unreported,” Lyonpo said, adding that this is happening despite the requirement for employers to report accidents at workplaces to the chief labour administrator.

The labour minister also said that the ministry is working to prevent avoidable mishaps and injuries in workplaces through the development and implementation of OHS policies, awareness programmes, and training.

The safety day observed yesterday is the third time in which CoRs were awarded. This time the theme of the safety day was “Optimise the Collection and Use of OHS Data.”

The labour minister said that in order to set priorities and measure progress in Bhutan, there is a need to improve the capacity to collect and utilise OHS data.

“Government, employers, and workers can actively participate in securing a safe and healthy working environment,” the minister said, explaining this could be achieved with defined rights, responsibilities, and duties to build a culture of prevention.

Lyonpo said the ministry would be there to provide all necessary support and guidance.

Sharing her experience as a safety officer with Bhutan Ferro Alloys Ltd, Bandana Rai said they strive to promote a safety culture.

“However, it is a challenge to maintain zero accidents,” she said. The safety officer explained that people are resistant to positive change such as using protective gear. Penalising employees for not using gear has worked to an extent though.

Safety officer with Zimdra Food Private Ltd, Karma Chedup said safety officers have a critical role to play in preventing mishaps at workplaces.

“We are the link between management and the workers when it comes to safety,” he said.

Zimdra Food Private Ltd was recognised as the top company that maintains safety at the workplace. Jigme Mining Industries of Gomtu, Samtse stood second and Saint Gobain Bhutan, third, in implementing safety.

With the economy growing, employees in sectors such as construction, manufacturing, production, and hydropower are reported as most vulnerable to work-related hazards. The labour ministry’s regional offices have been attempting to achieve correct and timely reports of such hazards.

However, there are still many areas in which proper and timely documentations are lacking today.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing