Dr. Kwame Boakye-Agyei, the Director for Health, Safety, Environment and Security for Kosmos Energy during his keynote address at the Ghana Extractive Industry Conference 2016 in Takoradi has urged that Ghanaians desire a deeper understanding of safety and uphold a safety culture that is firmly integrated into the various levels of government beginning with the political parties having the safety of citizens and employees addressed in their manifestoes. To him, we can build all the infrastructure, address education, bring in investors but our bad safety culture would dwindle the benefits. To this end, he called for the support of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary and most importantly Media which is the fifth estate to highlight safety management as a priority in nation’s development and as matter of urgency.
According to the safety practitioner, this is in consonance with Article 36 (10) of the 1992 Constitution and under the Directive Principles of State Policy, where the State is obliged to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of all persons in employment. He questioned why safety has not been given the level of recognition required for organizational and institutional growth. To him, safety is a strong indicator for sustainable development. He cited examples from other developed countries that have used safety to underpin development and the protection of its citizens.
Safety culture, he decried often reflects “the attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and values that employees share in relation to safety.” In other words, “this is the way we do safety around here.” He recounted the many safety events that has occurred through the years and wondered why no comprehensive actions have been undertaken as a people to address them. If these triggering mechanisms are not leading to safety policy change then what will? He asked.
Dr. Boakye-Agyei, emphasized that across the world safety policies change when fatal events occur. However in Ghana, our safety protocols still remains the same and outdated for that matter even though there has been very many fatal safety events. According to him, Ghanaians are not demanding the systems necessary for protection and prevention, industry in so many ways have been left to determine how far they can go and attitudes to safety by the citizenry is at its poorest.
In order to get out of this Dr. Boakye-Agyei suggested the following among others:
The country must make a choice, as a people, to move away from this chronic unsafe way of doing things. We owe this to the next generation, he says. He emphasized that we should begin by having all the political parties vying for power to show clearly their arrangements in fighting this bad safety culture. It’s a disease and must be removed.
Secondly, he said, there is the need for a national organisation or institution to take responsibility for the making of occupational health and safety regulation in the country. This organisation would take the form of the US OSHA, UK Health and Safety Executive, Safe Work Australia etc. Such an institution, he said, could lead all the necessary stakeholders to make sure that appropriate safety regulation are designed and implemented with culturally fitting arrangements.
Third, he posited that we de-sector safety regulation and revise outdated safety regulations to incorporate emergency response as an equally important aspect of safety.
According to Dr. Boakye-Agyei, safety policy is versed in the capacities of leadership. This cannot be achieved without a political will and he suggested that all citizens must demand this provision from government whilst government also demands a positive attitude from the citizenry.
He concluded that it’s a two way affair and expected the Secondi Takoradi Chamber of Commerce and Industry to lead this comprehensive discussion bringing all stakeholders to the
BY: David Aduhene Tanoh-www.reportingoilandgas.com