On World Day for Safety and Health at Work, which takes place each year on 28 April, the African Union Development Agency - NEPAD and the International Labour Organization (ILO) and partners hosted a webinar for Safety and Health at Work in Africa. The Africa webinar took place on Tuesday, 28 April 2020 from 13:00 – 15:00 (CAT) under the theme: “Stop the Pandemic: Occupational Safety and Health can Save Lives”. The commemorative webinar focused on saluting health workers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The successful webinar attracted close to 200 participants from across the continent.

Mr Amine Idris Adoum, AUDA-NEPAD Director, Programme Delivery and Coordination, in his opening remarks stated that “this webinar is aimed at honouring all health-care workers and express our gratitude for the critical role they play in providing high quality care to our communities, especially now as the world is faced with COVID-19 pandemic.” He reiterated that the main objective for a regional response is to have a coordinated response and harmonisation of systems to ensure that even the poorest member states benefit from the knowledge that exists in the continent. Dr Joni Musabayana, ILO Director, Decent Work Team for Eastern and Southern Africa commended AUDA-NEPAD for recognizing the need for a united and coordinated response as a region to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on the working population, in an effort to ensure the availability of necessary expertise in providing evidence-based guidance. Mr Tibor Szana; Chief Inspector, Occupational Health and Safety, Department of Employment and Labour South Africa, stated that South Africa has improved the occupational health and safety management systems through a partnership with AU and ILO and engagement with member states through activities under several projects including the Southern Africa TB and Health Systems Support Project (SATBHSS). “We have conducted above 2000 inspection, with an average of 60% compliance. We closed businesses which did not comply. The non-compliances were lack of risk assessment,” he said.

Dr. Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, Deputy Director, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC);

Stated that the Africa CDC has provided capacity building on enhanced surveillance to 25 countries; is currently conducts weekly online training on clinical management, and provided capacity building to 40 countries on medical supplies and equipment needed by personnel. We are developing guidelines on how to protect workers and correctly utilise PPEs, as well as procuring and distributing PPEs across Africa, engaged governments on the need to ensure a safe working environment for health workers.”

Sabelo Mbokazi, Head of Labour, Employment and Migration Division, Department of Social Affairs, African Union; reiterated that strategic repositioning of workplaces to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic calls for the development of comprehensive and robust occupational safety and health management. “Sabelo Mbokazi, Head of Labour, Employment and Migration Division, Department of Social Affairs, African Union; reiterated that strategic repositioning of workplaces to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic calls for the development of comprehensive and robust occupational safety and health management.

Ehi Iden, President, OSHAfrica; stated that through e-learning platforms and engagements with government leaders, various organisation and OSH networks, they developed key COVID-19 programmes such as conducting education and training on COVID-19 using the employee and employee family approach and Designing Incidence Management Plan. “We must acknowledge that the lockdown and isolation measures implemented by various country can cause mental health and psychological bruise to workers,” he said.

Ms Chimwemwe Chamdimba, AUDA-NEPAD Project Manager gave the closing remarks, “we have set-up a team of experts aimed at the development of OSH/COVID-19 guidelines and a series of workplace response trainings aimed at responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond the current pandemic to OSH. We, therefore, would like to invite experts from Africa and beyond to hold hands with us.

Key Recommendations:

The importance of developing a robust risk management plan as member states are gearing towards the return to work.

Review of national occupational disease compensation systems and list of occupational diseases.

Review and strengthening of national OSH policies and programme towards the Integration of COVID-19 responses.

Strengthening of interdisciplinary and regional and international networks and collaboration.

Strengthening of research capacity, data management and production of peer-reviewed evidence.

Integration of public health and occupational safety and health data management.

Introduction of public health systems audit to strengthening its performance.

Reviewing of OSH professionals and Inspectorates skill sets and competence.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Labour Organization has prepared an action checklist for “Prevention and Mitigation of COVID-19 at Work”and a report titled “In the face of a pandemic: Ensuring Safety and Health at Work”. These are accessible on the ILO’s “COVID-19 and the world of work” portal. The African Union has published the “Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 Outbreak”, AUDA-NEPAD has published a white paper titled “AUDA-NEPAD Response to COVID-19 and other Epidemics”.

To read the full report of the webinar visit our SATBHSS website: xxx

To view the OSH webinar video please visit: OSH Day Video: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1z9EsX7XBa7kinUmy_Tz4AqZHI0IqEFbr/view?u...

OSH webinar material : https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Beko98b88l0b1QwlatpAstPkU7xGONM9...

Image: