OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY KNOWLEDGE AND PRACTICES OF WORKERS IN THE ANGLOGOLD ASHANTI IDUAPRIEM GOLD MINE GHANA LIMITED, TARKWA

ABSTRACT
Most African countries are noted for poor occupational health and safety practices. In spite of the numerous occupational health and safety advances in recent years, several occupational accidents, hazards and incidence plaque most African countries, including Ghana. This study examines problems and issues related to Occupational Health and Safety at AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem Gold Mine Ghana Limited, Tarkwa. The findings revealed that though the occupational health and safety policies of the company were adequate and upheld to many of the times, there are reported cases of accidents and incidents which appear on the ascendancy. Recommendations arising out of the study include the need for top personnel of the mining company to strengthen measures to ensure health and safety at the work premises and increase training programmes on health and safety policies for its new employees and refresher courses for serving staff. Stratified sampling as well as random sampling techniques was adopted for the study to select two hundred (200) persons selected across all sections of the company. It was made up of 40 senior members and 160 junior members of staff. As a result of the many different sections of the Company, the researcher used a cross-sectional approach as a research design to capture the practice and views in all sections at a given time.


CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background to the Study
Business entities in today’s competitive environment are constantly struggling with revolutionary trends in terms of accelerating product and technological changes, global competition, deregulation and demographic changes, and the apparent need to survive by implementing policies and programmes to cope with the ever changing work environment. The issue of safe and conducive workplace environment has been given prominence in recent times because labour experts believe that occupational health and safety measures are pre-requisites for continuance of industrial production (Cole, 2014).

The mining sector is one of the world’s most hazardous sectors which make people working in the mines to be exposed to various physical, chemical, mechanical, biological, and psychosocial risk factors (Amponsah-Tawiah K. & Justice Mensah 2016). According to Owiredu (2014) Ghana is one of the West African countries that have become a preferred destination for mineral investment, with the legitimate mining industry accounting for more than 49% of the country’s gross foreign exchange earnings. Mining activities, however, present not only economic opportunities for the country but also major challenges, particularly in the area of occupational health and safety (OHS) for employees in this sector (Amponsah-Tawiah et al., 2016). The importance of healthy workplaces are increasingly being recognized as a broad concept influencing quality of life at the individual level to substantial impacts on public health at the societal level (Helliwell J. F, & Putnam R. D., 2014).

OHS is a multidisciplinary concept that concentrates on the promotion of health, safety, and welfare of people engaged in work or employment (Bhagawati, 2013). According to Amponsah-Tawiah et al (2011) occupational health and safety encapsulates the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of the worker in relation to the conduct of his/her work and, as a result, marks an essential subject of interest impacting positively on the achievement of organizational goals. Available data reveal startling and tremendously high rates of work-related deaths and injuries in both developed and developing nations (Gyekye, 2007). According to the International Labour Organization, (ILO), 2.3 million people die each year owing to work-related accidents or illness, and 350,000 of these deaths are attributable to occupational accidents. Additionally, the ILO estimates that there are 264 million non-fatal accidents each year that result in work-related illnesses, leading to approximately 3 days of absence from work (ILO, 2015).

According to Seo, D. C., Torabi, M. R., Blair, E. H., & Ellis, N. T. (2016) industries, especially those in developing countries are suffering enormous economic and personnel costs as a result of injuries and diseases related to work. ILO (2015) revealed that the everyday occurrence of 860,000 occupational accidents with either a direct or indirect cost for occupational illnesses and accidents is estimated at $2.8 trillion worldwide.

However, despite these startling global figures on occupational health and safety, only a small number of empirical research studies on occupational health and safety have been conducted in sub-Saharan Africa specifically, Ghana, where majority of the citizens are engaged in jobs classified hazardous such as mining, quarrying, lumbering, farming, and fishing (Gyekye, 2007). Arguably, few studies have examined the relationship between occupational health and safety management and employee commitment, particularly in the mining industry.

The subject of occupational health and safety management in the mining sector is on the rise because of the increasing demand for minerals and the high-risk factors associated with it. The case for employees and organizations is that, according to Demba E., Ceesay O. M., & Mendy G. D. (2011) the rates of industrial and occupational injury-related deaths and disabilities are on the rise in developing nations. As a result, the mining sectors of these mineral-endowed developing countries are highly prone to these occupational injury-related deaths and disabilities. This affects employees’ attitudes and intentions toward their organization. Occupational health programmes are thus primarily concerned with the prevention of ill health arising from workplace conditions, whereas safety programmes deal with the prevention of accidents and with minimizing the resulting loss and damage to lives and properties (Adeniyi, 2010). Boyle (2017) posits that the process of managing occupational health and safety is the same as other management activities, but the distinction lies in the complex nature of occupational health and safety. However, according to Cooper (2015), the management of OHS is in many respects exactly the same as managing productivity or other functional areas of operations. This shows that the management of safety at the workplace is not just about prevention of repetitions of accidents that have already occurred but rather must be integrated into the general management system that relates to quality management and protection of the working person and the environment.

Hayes B. E., Perander J., Smecko T., & Trask J. (2014) proposed five constructs of assessing workplace safety. These authors are of the view that management commitment to safety, supervisors’ safety practices, co-worker safety practices, job safety, and safety programs are some of the critical issues that could be looked at in terms of safety at the workplace. Steenkamp and Van Schoor (2012) rightfully mentioned that occupational health and safety is a complex international problem for management and society, and that it must always be a top management priority. Management commitment plays an important role in all aspects of safety intervention (Steenkamp R. & Van Schoor A., 2012). Management commitment to safety indicates the extent to which the organization’s top management demonstrates positive and supportive safety attitudes toward their employees’ safety (Hsu, 2014). Yule S., Flin R., & Murdy A. (2014) noted that employees’ perception of dedicated management’s action to safety resulted in accident reduction. Ali H., Abdullah N., & Subr C. (2016) also argued that management safety practices as well as commitment to safety play an effective role in reducing workplace injuries. Geldart S., Smith C., Shannon C., & Lohfeld L. (2013), in a study on Canadian manufacturing firms, also found that administrative policies, practices, and attitudes have a direct positive impact on safety in the workplace.

Additionally, supervisors are normally seen as one of the key elements in health and safety management at the workplace in ensuring safety compliance and safety participation (Gyekye 2007). In their study, Yule S., Flin R., & Murdy A. (2014) noted that employees conformed to safety rules and procedures when they perceived that the action of their supervisor is fair and congruent with organization policy on safety. Supervisors’ safety practices describe the extent to which a supervisor keeps track of unsafe practices as well as acknowledges the workers who adopt safe work behaviours. Another interesting element in health and safety management that could be used to increase safety performance at the workplace is co-worker safety practices. Co-worker safety concerns the extent to which workers perceive their colleagues as valuing safety. According to Ford and Tetrick (2013), employee behaviours at work and personality variables contribute, directly or indirectly, to accidents. Safety behavior encompasses all activities undertaken by individuals in their workplace to ensure their personal safety, the safety of their coworkers, and the safety of their organization at large. Ford and Tetrick (2013) asserted that workers’ safety-oriented behaviour can be scaled up by the extent to which they engage in actions that promote safety and avoid those that decrease safety.

Job safety shows the extent to which job duties do not pose threats or unhealthy consequence(s) on the health and safety of employees. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (2014), job safety analysis is a technique that focuses on job tasks as a way to identify hazards before they occur. It focuses on the relationship between the worker, the task, the tools, and the work environment. Gyekye (2007) explains job safety as a measure of the degree of safety inherent in a job assignment. Job safety looks at how employees are well informed on hazards and risk associated with job description and measures implemented to curtail or eradicate those hazards and risk. Health and safety programs consist of clearly defined actions to implement the health and safety training and policies. Safety training and safety policies are essential determinants of safety performance. Safety training is defined as the knowledge of safety given to employees in order for them to work safely and with no danger to their well-being (Law, W. K., Chan A. H. S., & Pun K. F. 2011). Likewise, Lin and Mills (2010) found that clear policy statements and safety training played an important role in reducing accident rates. Earlier studies indicated a link between safety training and increased safety performance (Huang, 2011). Consequently, effective training assists workers to have a sense of belonging and thus, be more accountable for safety in their workplace. In addition, Vassie and Lucas (2017) indicated that safety programs are crucial to all workers and an important aspect of effective health and safety management.

Cole (2013) posits that employees who are healthy and feel safe at work are those who can fully invest their capabilities and exploit the best of their potentials to work. Similarly, Sinclair R., Tucker J. S., Wright, C. & Cullen J. C. (2017) are of the view that when organizations fail to address poor working conditions such as health and safety issues, workers are more likely to judge the costs of staying with the firm as exceeding the costs of leaving. Grawitch M. J., Trares S., & Kohler J. M. (2016) explored the relationship between employee satisfaction with different workplace practices (i.e., employee involvement, growth and development, work-life balance, recognition, health and safety) and employee outcomes (i.e., organizational commitment, emotional exhaustion, mental wellbeing, and turnover intentions). Overall, regression results indicated that satisfaction with healthy workplace practices was predictive of employee outcomes. In China, Siu (2012) found a positive relationship between affective commitment and physical wellbeing of employees. To have committed employees, management must show concern for the health, safety, and welfare of people engaged at work.

Further, the Labour Act of 2003 (Act 651) of the Republic of Ghana apparently directs employers and employees in their roles and responsibilities in managing Occupational Health, Safety and Environment in the nation, however, the Act is not specific about whom to report accidents and occupational illnesses to. It does not specify what to consider as an occupational illness. It does not also specify as to who is responsible for ensuring that industries in Ghana implement corrective actions (Gyekye, 2007).

Accidents that occur in factories are expected to be reported to the Department of Factory Inspectorate (DFI) but companies hardly report such events to the Inspectorate for investigation and correction. In situations where accidents are reported, it takes a long time before corrective or preventive actions are implemented; hence, there is a little or no positive effect of the action of the DFI on the factories (ILO, 2015).

Dorman (2016) reported that every manager and employee wants a healthy and safe work environment. Most organisations fail to protect their workers fully as part of cost-cutting measures, which finally results in numerous accidents at work places, and work-related diseases. In spite of the changes in technology and the creation of awareness, the Ghanaian worker still faces health and safety hazards such as excessive heat, dust, noise, exposure to dangerous equipment, spillage, etc. hence most workers work under fear (Gyekye, 2007). The aforementioned state of events can be attributed to the non-enforcement of existing occupational health and safety laws and government inability to ensure adherence to ILO conventions (Annan, 2010).

It is vital for companies to have efficient health and safety services for their employees to promote and maintain the highest level of physical, mental and social well-being. Apart from a few multi-national companies that provide a whole range of health services to their staff, comprehensive occupational health and safety services are not norms in Ghana as most companies aim at providing care for ill-health but ignore the preventive aspect of this problem (Annan, 2010).

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Item Type: Ghanaian Project Material  |  Attribute: 118 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: GH50  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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