Occupational Safety & Health

Economic Review, October 1994 | Go to article overview

Occupational Safety & Health


As I stand today before this august galaxy of professionals joining their heads together on the issues related to occupational safety and health I am reminded of an observation made by Mr. K. Kogi the then Regional Advisor on Conditions of Work & Welfare Activities in the ILO Regional Office for Asia & Pacific in a Conference of similar nature held at Karachi in 1983 and quote.

"Technology changes work but people have not changed much"

The engineering industry in Pakistan had made a headway in the use of machinery and equipments, in the area of transfer of technology, in the area of automation and computers. In a way it can be said that the history of past few decades of industrial growth in Pakistan at whatever pace the same had been is a history of technological changes, a history of change in work methods, a story of carrying on with the old machineries, and equipments with modification or replacing the old machines and equipments by new innovations in the field of technology, be them imported from Japan or Germany, Korea or China or any part of the technologically advanced industrial world.

The question that I want to pose at this stage is: by whatever magnitude the engineering industry in Pakistan has been able to invoke the technological change, has it been able to cope with the same pace in its capability to combat HAZARDS. If the answer was to be a "yes", there was no need for your joining heads together in today's seminar. But since the answer is a BIG NO let us make an attempt in the foregoing to identity what are these "HAZARDS" that we tend to combat and how? I would like to point out to the HAZARDS in our engineering industry in the following seven important perspectives:-

H ouse Keeping and Health and Hygiene

A ccident/awareness and Preventive Measures

Z ones of Physical and Metaphysical Dangers

A utomation

R ules and Standards

D iseases Occupation Related

S afety, Education and Training

House Keeping

The general approach of our work force towards the concept of "House Keeping" is very skeptical. OUr work force works under an attitude that our job is to come to work and to perform only as much as I am instructed in a given work environment and that I have no control over the environment in which I work and that keeping my environment clean and tidy is not my but someone else's responsibility.

Complaints are not uncommon that the facilities of uniforms, shoes, eyeglasses gloves, protective articles given to the workforce for using the same during work as a part of the general house keeping plan of most of the companies some-times done unilaterally and sometimes under bilaterally negotiated agreements are not properly utilised. The dust and scrap bins and spittones provided to the workforce which can improve the general house-keeping standards are also not being properly utilised.

In the area of health and hygiene although through legislation of Social Security Scheme or Employers' own medical coverage the facilities of medical treatment are available to the workers, they are most allergic to submit themselves to regular medical check up or periodical examination for protection against contagious or infectious disease or even compulsory vaccination and inoculation against such diseases.

Maintenance of "hygiene cards" as a requirement under the Factories Act and this certification by a doctor twice a year to the effect that the workers is not suffering from any contagious or infectious disease is a mere formality and in most of the organisations neither the employers nor the workers take the issue seriously from the view point of personal health and hygiene which reflects their conception for poor house keeping.

Even the attitude of some of the employers in the Industry is not very reflective of their concern for proper house keeping which is evident from the standard of cleanliness, poor arrangements for disposal of wastes and effluents, overcrowded work places, improper maintenance of plant buildings and equipments, latrines and urinals, canteen and kitchens. …

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