The management of occupational health and safety in the timber industry within Ashanti Region - Ghana

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All humans have a tendency towards having accidents at one time or another in their lifetime. Such accidents may occur either on-the-job or off-the-job account for the high incidence of occupational injury records within the Timber Industry in Ghana. Factors affecting such accidents include the lack of safety implements for worker within the industry, safety policies which are not adhered to within the industry, use of obsolete machines, lack of proper training for workers, outmoded laws that make it unreasonable for safety inspectors to prosecute employers among others. Workgroups most affected by occupational injuries (in this study injuries and accidents are used interchangeably) within the timber industry in Ghana are labourers and machine operators. These classes of workers account for more than 50% of all injuries recorded within the industry. Various approaches employed to minimise losses arising from such injuries include the Engineering Approach, the Line and Staff Approaches, as well as the Selection Approach. The Engineering Approach aims at a redesign of machinery in order to enhance workplace safety, while the Line and Staff Approaches employs Line Managers and Supervisors as well as other auxiliary staff such as Safety Officers to enhance workplace safety. The Selection Approach employs the use of validation studies in the staffing process in order to detect the accident-prone. Results of the study showed that while labourers were the most affected by occupational injuries such as the traumatic amputation of the limbs, officers and clerical staff within the same industry were least affected by occupational injuries. Workers who were conscious of their safety needs therefore bought their own safety gadgets. Workmen’s compensation in event of any occupational injuries or fatalities proved to be far below the hospital ward and drug charges, although most of such charges were unapproved. It is therefore hoped that government and all bodies that protect the interest of workers would put in measures that would safeguard this situation. Such policies may include national safety campaigns, modified safety laws and improved safety monitoring procedures among others. It is hoped that this would go a long way not only o save the country’s scarce national resources but also to protect the lives of workers within this industry.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Economics and Industrial Management, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the Master of Arts in Industrial Management, 2000