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National Factory Board calls for workers’ protection, safety

Nov 13, 2015, 11:58 AM | Article By: Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang

The chairperson of the National Factories Board (NFB) has revealed that the board is mandated, among others, to approve licence, and provide guidelines for operations in an effort to minimise factory accidents and promote all-time safety of workers.

She pointed out that this national exercise is not a witch-hunt, but a knowledge-sharing, monitoring and advocacy effort to promote occupational and health safety at the factory, including its workers and the surrounding environment.

Ndey Siren Bakurin recently made these statements during this year’s first phase of the board’s conducted tour of some of the factories and their facilities within the Greater Banjul Area (GBA).

In the first leg of the tour, factories visited included the Banjul Breweries Ltd, Gambega Factory and Banjul Oxygen.

All other factories operating within the length and breadth of the country will be visited and inspected.

Chairperson Bakurin, who doubles as the Executive Director of the National Environment Agency (NEA), reiterated that the safety and the provision of protective and safety gear to workers, and improving the condition of the environment where they are working under, “will never be compromised”.

She disclosed that this exercise is tailored to avert or minimise the occurrence of industrial accidents in factories and workplaces, and also to give the working environment the requisite respect and honour, as prescribed in the Factory Act and National Environment Management Act (NEMA).

She called for the cooperation of all in a holistic move towards the protection of workers, factories and the environment.

Sharing her impressions with the press after a day’s tour, she said in the quest to turn the old crude way in which factories operate, the board would regularise their mode of operation to come to international standards or equivalent to the recommended standards in The Gambia.

According to NEA’s Executive Director, who is also the focal point of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for the West Africa Region, the areas of inspection for safety and health purposes include ventilation, lighting system, first aid facility, protective gears/clothing, toilet facilities, exposure to hazards, waste management, proper guarding of machines and emergency exits.

She pointed out that occupational safety and health, also commonly referred to as workplace health and safety, is an area of concerned, as the safety, health and welfare of people engaged in work or employment is paramount.

The goals of occupational safety and health programmes, she pointed out, include fostering a safe and healthy work environment.

“The main focus in occupational health is on three different objectives: the maintenance and promotion of workers’ health and working capacity; the improvement of working environment and work to become conducive to safety and health and development of work organisations and working cultures in a direction which supports health and safety at work; and in doing so also promotes a positive social climate and smooth operation and may enhance productivity of the undertakings,” the NFB chairperson explained.

“The concept of working culture is intended, in this context, to mean a reflection of the essential value systems adopted by the undertaking concerned. Such a culture is reflected in practice in the managerial systems, personnel policy, principles for participation, training policies and quality management of the undertaking.”

The National Factory Board taskforce members in the tour party included the commissioner of Labour, Nyallow Barrow, Ebrima Garba Cham from the Workers’ Union, Lang Jammeh, coordinator of Manufacturers’ Association, Amulie Jarjusey of the Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure, and Sambou Barrow, deputy commissioner of Labour.