Workplace deaths too high

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Ninety people died last year in accidents at work, while 4 410 were seriously injured, figures too high for an economy that is not operating at full strength, acting Labour and Social Services minister Theresa Makone said last week.

This year 47 deaths and 2 395 serious injuries at work had been recorded by August.

“What if we had full strength?” she asked.

Officially opening the three-day annual National Conference on Safety and Health at Work in Harare, Makone called on employers and employees to place safety high on their agenda and ensure a hazard-free working environment.

She said accidents were preventable if occupational health and safety practices and strategies were applied.

The number of deaths at work last year was the highest in the last five years, nine more than in 2006, when 81 people died in accidents at work and 26 more than in 2009, when 64 in work accidents were recorded. In 2007 there were 72 deaths. In 2008 there were 65.

The 4 410 serious injuries at work last year were 1 280 more than in the previous year, when the number was recorded at 3 122. In 2008 there were 3 810. In 2007 there were 6 117. In 2006 there were 6 339.

The minister said safety measures should be integrated into the day-to-day running of businesses.