By John Chola
ZAMBIA has finally launched the global Vision Zero campaign, a process aimed at building a culture of prevention of occupational accidents that integrates safety, health and wellness.
Minister of Labour and Social Security Joyce Simukoko told hundreds of delegates from around the globe and within Zambia gathered in Livingstone for the official launch that the global Vision Zero campaign was premised on the belief that all occupational accidents and diseases are preventable.
Simukoko said the campaign resonates well with the policies of the Government of Zambia that seek to address occupational safety and health at work places across the country.
In a speech read for her by Ministry of Labour and Social Security Permanent Secretary Barnaby Mulenga on Friday December 14, 2018, Simukoko noted that occupational accidents and diseases, present colossal social and economic burdens to enterprises in the local and global economy.
She added that the attendant impact of injuries, disease and deaths was directly interpreted in appalling human and financial stress on communities and countries across the world.
“My Government has put in place adequate social security systems, for the protection of workers against employment injuries and diseases; this is because life and health can never be exchanged for any other benefits.
“Government, through the Ministry of Labour and Social Security will demonstrate through cooperation and dialogue that it is possible to create safe and healthy workplaces by embracing the Vision Zero campaign in Zambia,” affirmed Simukoko.
The minister further said that the Vision Zero campaign must guarantee the freedom to work in healthy and safe environment for all workers in Zambia.
“We all know that the human and social stress attributed to occupational hazards pose a real challenge for the Zambian as well as global economy with over 2.8 million deaths and 394 million accidents attributed to employment related activities.
“These numbers are way too high and therefore the need for a paradigm shift at every level of organisation from one of fault-finding, to one that focuses on finding solutions to prevent injuries and ill-health cannot be over emphasised,” Simukoko explained.
She said that the launch of Vision Zero campaign in Zambia was a timely intervention by the Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB) in collaboration with the International Social Security Association (ISSA).
She commended the WCFCB and its local and international partners for taking a proactive approach to accident prevention and supporting the Government in taking leadership to ensure that workplaces in Zambia were safe and healthy.
Simukoko stated that the Vision Zero campaign was a positive response to the aspirations of the Government on the need to deliver a vibrant social security system that protects citizens against poverty, and destitution arising from employment-related injuries, diseases and deaths.
“Striving for a world without fatalities or injuries is one of the greatest challenges that confront us all, and to respond to these challenges we need to keep abreast with the latest developments, and constantly review existing legislation and policies on occupational safety and health in Zambia.
“My Government wishes to assure all partners involved that we fully embrace and support the Vision Zero campaign in the country because it confirms the commitment to oversee the implementation of policies that are seeking to transform into an efficient and effective organisation,” the minister said.
She made a clarion call to all stakeholders, especially employers to join the Vision Zero campaign and ensure that Zambia as a country delivered workplaces that were safe and healthy for all workers in the country by 2030.
WCFCB Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Nkumbula praised ISSA and partner organisations for delivering the promise on the launch of the Vision Zero campaign as collectively planned.
She explained that the Vision Zero campaign was a global undertaking launched by the ISSA during its 21st World Congress in September 2017 as a response to the increased number of occupational accidents across the world.
Nkumbula said that, in order to address stakeholder concerns on occupational accidents at workplaces, the ISSA introduced the Vision Zero Campaign as a transformation approach to prevention that embraces three dimensions being safety, health and well-being at all work places.
She said that the Vision Zero Campaign had been aligned to Zambia’s national Vision 2030, adding that it was her organisation’s expectation and hope that the preventable accidents and occupational diseases would be reduced by then.
Some of the local partners that worked closely with the ZCFCB in the launch include National Pension Scheme Authority (Napsa), Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (Zesco), Local Authority Superannuation Fund (LASF), Zambia Sugar, Public Service Pensions Fund and National Construction Council (NCC).
Others are Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) Road Development Agency (RDA and Indeni.
Before the launch, Zambia through the WCFCB had been holding stakeholder meetings to build momentum around the country towards the Vision Zero campaign.