National Factory Board calls for workers` protection, safety at any cost

By: Sheikh AlkinkySanyang

The Chairperson of the instituted National Factories Board (NFB) has revealed that the board is mandated among others toNFB Chairperson Ndey Bakurin with members of her team at Gambega Company approve licenses, provide guidelines for operations in an effort to minimize factory accidents and promote all time safety of workers. She clearly pointed out that this national exercise is not a witch hunt, but a knowledge sharing, monitoring and advocacy to promote occupational and health safety of the factory, 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 this first leg of the tour, factories visited include the Banjul Breweries Ltd, Gambega Factory and Banjul Oxygen, but all other factories operating within the length and breadth of the country would be visited and examined.

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 gears to workers and improved condition of the working environment would never be compromised. She disclosed that this exercise is tailored to avert or minimize the occurrence of industrial accidents in factories and working places and also to give the working environment the requisite respect and honor as prescribed in the Factory Act and National Environment Management Act (NEMA). She therefore called for the cooperation of all in a holistic move towards the protection of workers, factories and the environment.

Sharing her impression with the press after a day`s hectic tour, she posited that the quest to turn the old crude way in which factories operate, the board would regularize their mode of operation to international standard or equivalent 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, lightening system, first aid facility, protective gears/clothing, toilet facilities, exposure to hazards, waste management, proper guarding of machines and emergency exits.

She however pointed out that occupational safety and health also commonly referred to as workplace health and safety is an area of concern with the safety, health and welfare of people engaged in work or employment. The goals of occupational safety and health programs she pointed out include fostering a safe and healthy work environment.

“The main focus in occupational health is on three different objectives: (i) the maintenance and promotion of workers’ health and working capacity; (ii) the improvement of working environment and work to become conducive to safety and health and (iii) development of work organizations and working cultures in a direction which support 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 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.” NFB Chairperson posited.

The National Factory Board task force members in the tour party included Commissioner of Labour Nyallow Barrow, Ebrima Gabba Cham from 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.