State-run pension fund, the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), is working with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to improve workplace safety for the informal sector players.
Although Zimbabwe’s informal sector has grown over the years to become a significant contributor to gross domestic product (GDP), it has been historically difficult for NSSA to implement occupational safety and health (OSH) programmes for the informal sector as players are typically disparate entities.
And these small entities sometimes engage non-waged and unorganised workers that will be functioning in hazardous work processes and labour arrangements.
In a huge move to side-step these problems, NSSA and the ILO are currently piloting a programme that is designed to assist the informal sector players in managing hazards brought about by the coronavirus.
The programme is currently underway in three locations across Zimbabwe, namely: Bulawayo, Chinhoyi and Chivhu.
The development also comes as the world will tomorrow be commemorating the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, which will be running under the theme:“Investing in Resilient Occupational Safety and Health Systems”.
The two bodies are working on instilling safe work practices in the informal sector.
NSSA deputy director for marketing and communications, Mr Tendai Mutseyekwa, said the current projects were in Bulawayo (OK Mart SMEs, Pick n Pay and BCC site 7 Food Markets), Chivhu Food Market and Chinhoyi Food Market.
“The programme is aimed at building resilience and reducing vulnerabilities in occupational safety and health (OSH) systems in the informal sector through several OSH and Covid-19 response programmes. “Areas of focus include water provision, workstation re-design and Covid-19 prevention measures. “The programme was designed from information obtained after needs and risk assessments were conducted in the sites together with the beneficiaries,”
said Mr Mutseyekwa.
The ILO’s SafeWork Programme pays special attention to awareness-raising of workplace dangers among informal economy workers and enterprises, that typically do not consider the improvement of OSH as a priority.
Added Mr Mutseyekwa:
“Training programmes included group awareness sessions, a train the trainer course which brought together various stakeholders drawn from central and local government, worker organisations, among others. This covered first aid training for the beneficiaries as an emergency preparedness measure for any eventualities in the workplace.”
The World Day for Safety and Health at Work is celebrated annually on April 28, to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally.
Meanwhile, a virtual commemoration of the day will be hosted by NSSA in conjunction with social partners such as, ILO, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU), the Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Union, Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ) and local authorities.