A description of safety and health committees among selected industries in Nairobi
Despite immense efforts, occupational accidents and injuries are still too frequent. Millions of workers become victims every year. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that, globally, about 2.2 million people die every year from occupational injury and illness (ILO, 2005). Apart from lowering economic costs, reducing the toll of occupational accidents and diseases has obvious implications in terms of the alleviation of human suffering. Paying attention to occupational safety and health should, therefore, be given high priority not only on moral, as a concern, but also on economic grounds. Healthy workers are more likely to have higher work motivation, enjoy greater work satisfaction and contribute to better quality goods and services. The health, safety and well-being of working people, therefore, is of utmost importance for overall socio-economic, equitable and sustainable development. The main objective of this study was to describe the safety and health committees in various industries in the city of Nairobi. It was a descriptive study with the population of study comprising of staff members from 103 randomly selected industries in Nairobi. Interviews were used to collect primary data while secondary data were derived from the administrative and personnel reports. Data analysis was done using Predictive Analytics Software (P ASW). The Ministry of Labour reports that more than half of the industrial accidents and injuries in Kenya go unreported. It further estimates that reported occupational fatalities and injuries for the years 2000-2004 are: 1528,1923,1332,1599 and 1387 respectively. Major challenges included balancing of committee duties with the company duties, inadequate time for training and inadequate funds and facilities. Generally the committees had had a positive impact on safety at the various workplaces. Fifty percent (50%) of the committee members were between 25 and 40 years, 60% were males while 73% were married. Fifty percent (50%) of the committees had 1 to 3 members from management while 28% had between 4 and 6. Thirty eight percent (38%) had 7 to 9 representatives from workers while 33% had between 4 and 6. Forty percent (40%) of the committees met weekly, 29% monthly and 13% when summoned. Sixty percent (60%) of the committees contributed to decision-making at the workplace through giving views and 32% through giving directions. Forty-five percent (45%) communicated with workers through meetings and 38% through postings in notice boards. Forty-five percent (45%) maintained records in dis~er accident registers, 35% in safety and health registers and 14% in bar graphs. Forty-three percent (43%) of the committee members were trained in first aid, 23% in disaster management and 17% in material and equipment handling and fire fighting. Eighty-five percent (85%) of the managers had had their expectations fulfilled as far as the committees were concerned. This was the case with 83% of the workers. Study recommendations included full co-operation from management and workers, regular training and that the relevant authority (Directorate of Occupational Health and Safety Services, Ministry of Labour) should be more active. More research should be undertaken on areas such as where emphasis on type of training should be. It is hoped that the findings of this study will help policy makers improve the concept of Safety and Health Committees and safety and health in general. This will, in tum, contribute to the reduction of morbidity, mortality, occupational accidents and injuries.