OSH Month 2024 to raise awareness on heat related illnesses

Considering the detrimental effects of the El Nino phenomenon on the human body, the Labour Ministry has made a holistic decision to use the observance of Occupational Safety and Health Month to educate employers and employees on how they can better protect themselves from heat related illnesses.
This year’s theme “We are running out of time: Ensuring Safe and Healthy work now in a changing climate”, aims to highlight occupational risks exacerbated by climate change, such as heat stress, Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and air pollution.
This will be done through various mediums including the hosting of seminars, workplace engagements, the OSH annual walk, and inspections at mining, construction and agriculture sites in Regions One, Seven and Nine.
During a social media address, Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton disclosed that the theme was approved by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in an effort to avoid fatalities associated with extreme weather, increase vector borne diseases as well as major industrial accidents.
“The importance of prioritizing occupation safety and health in the workplace has never been more important… We have invited our tripartite partners and key stakeholders to develop and implement programmes that are aimed increasing awareness of Occupation Safety and Health generally and more specifically promoting safety and health at work in the changing climate,” the Labour Minister posited.
Further, the Labour Minister reminded that safety in the workplace is a fundamental right for all employees and as such, employers must take responsibility to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.
On this point, he emphasized that a safe workplace not only protects workers from accidents and injuries, but it also leads to increased productivity and morale.
“I have been informed that the response to the invitations have been positive. Our programmes of activities will encompass a wide range of initiatives aimed at promoting awareness, building capacity and foster collaboration”.
“By promoting good workplace safety and health practices we can create healthier and more sustainable workplaces for all the workers in this country of ours. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage us all to be guided by the principle of inclusivity and share responsibility,” Minister Hamilton added.
The El Nino phenomenon which is triggered by the warming of the central eastern Pacific Ocean, usually manifests every two to seven years and last for a period of 9 to 12 months.
During the El Nino phenomenon, the environment will experience meteorological drought (which is a deduction in rainfall), hydrological drought (whereby water level in rivers decrease affecting livestock, and food supply) and ecological drought which dries up the moisture of the soil.
All the droughts mentioned have the potential to cause wild or flash fires, decrease crop production and cause flooding.
The El Niño is expected to last until at least April 2024, since the effects of an El Niño typically play out the year after it forms.
However, several experts associated with agencies such as the World Health Organization have hinted that 2024 will be even hotter.
The average global mean temperature between January and October 2023 was the highest on record. It beat the 10-month average for 2016 – the current record holder for the hottest year.
Given the existing reality, medical experts have published countless articles warning that heat-related illnesses and deaths will increase. One serious, potentially fatal condition is rhabdomyolysis.