The Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations has drafted a new Factories, Offices and Shops Amendment Bill, which it will present to Cabinet this month for consideration and onward transmission to Parliament to be passed into law.
The new bill has been expanded to cover the construction, mining, agriculture and all the sectors of the economy to secure the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) of workers in all these sectors.
The sector Minister, Nii Armah Ashietey, said this in a speech read on his behalf at a stakeholders conference and advocacy programme held in Accra for members of the Ghana Contractors Association Council (GCAC) to review the draft Bill
The conference was to seek the input of the members of GCAC into the new Factories, Offices and Shops bill.
GCAC has been championing the amendment of the law because it was irrelevant to the construction and other sub-sectors of the economy.
According to the GCAC, the Factories, Offices and Shops Act, which is supposed to ensure workplace safety, is limited and does not cover construction and construction sites, a major risky working environment.
Consequently, the GCAC, with support from the BUSAC Fund, commissioned a study into the workings of the Factories, Offices, Shops Act to ascertain its limitations and come up with recommendations.
Mr Ashietey said the policy would be presented to Cabinet this month and was hopeful that the draft bill would be passed into law before the end of the year.
When passed, the Factories Inspectorate Department would become an Authority imbued with more powers to sanction, including the prosecution of persons, who failed to uphold OHS standards at their workplaces.
Nii Ashietey further said the new law would consolidate all the OHS laws in the country and create a single authority to deal with OHS issues.
“The new Factories, Offices and Shops bill has made provisions for a National OHS day to be held annually to promote workplace safety and the development of local standards on OHS,” he said.
The Chairman of GCAC, Mr Rockson K. Dogbegah, said OHS was very important and required an appropriate law to regulate it.
He called on the government to as a matter of urgency ratify the International Labour Convention on OHS, saying the country could not afford to underplay its relevance to the safety and welfare of workers.
A Service Provider of BUSAC, Mr Agyarkwa Ayisi Addo, said the construction industry constituted an important sector of the economy and so there was the need for an effective regulation to govern the industry.