DEATHS and injuries of workers on duty dropped by 8,16% and 30,57% respectively, in 2020 compared to 2019, statistics from the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) show.
According to Nssa, 45 workers died in 2020 compared to 49 in 2019 while 3 528 workplace injuries were recorded in 2020 against 5 082 in 2019. The authority attributed the deaths to various causes.
Nssa deputy director, marketing and communications, Tendai Mutseyekwa told Zimbabwe Independent that: “Out of a total of 45 workers who died as a result of workplace activities, 16 of them were as a result of road traffic accidents. Other notable causes were drowning, suffocation in manholes, attacks by wild animals, collapse of mines, as well as poor working conditions”.
He lamented that while some of the affected companies “… have occupational safety, health and environmental (SHE) officers and guidelines, the majority didn’t have”.
Occupational Safety, Health and Environmental guidelines are essential to protect employees through a safe working environment.
However, the department is considered to be an extra expense for many companies and contributes little to viability. Several companies put workers at risk as they ignore safety precautions. There are a total of 28 234 employers registered with Nssa.
Mutseyekwa said Nssa was apprised with “matters related to OSH (occupational health and safety) are dynamic and ongoing. Nssa has various programmes in place to promote safe practices at work.”
He said the social security authority was concerned about the high number of deaths in the artisanal mining sector, which points to lack of SHE guidelines.
Nssa has no jurisdiction to regulate the sector.
“Statistics for artisanal and SME gold mines are not included in the Nssa report because we don’t regulate them. However, plans to cover SMEs in the OSH laws are underway. Nssa has OSH promotional programmes that cover SMEs, such as educational workshops and distribution of information on accident prevention,” he said.