Despite regular trainings and awareness programs by the labor ministry (MoLHR) to the construction sectors and related agencies, much required Occupational, Health and Safety (OHS) measures could not be applied effectively.
A labor official said that there is a need for proper mechanism to institute and implement the rules and regulations of OHS to make working atmospheres more secure and safe.
Currently there is lack of cooperation from the employers and willingness to use personal protective equipments (PPE) by the employees.
Foreign workers in the construction site said that it’s uncomfortable for them to wear the PPE and work.
One of the foreign workers said “there is itching sensation while wearing the safety helmet so it’s better to work without though it’s for our safety”.
In addition to that the engineer in one of the construction site Ugyen (name changed) said that they provide workers with safety helmets but they are unwilling to wear the safety kits.
This, the site engineer said is an issue.
Observers said that whenever there is an investigation/inspection underway then they tend to use the PPEs but they remove it as soon as the labor officials leave the scene.
Labor officer Phuntsho Dendup said it’s impossible to provide awareness on OHS to every foreign worker as there are more than 1000 workers entering in a day.
From the day OHS was framed (2006) till date there were around more than 134 casualties recorded in the ministry. 66 cases of death, another 66 with disability and 2 disable cases.
However the ministry expects to have more number but they are unable to fetch reports from the various agencies that are responsible to do it.
Labour officer also said it’s the duty of employers to report about casualty, but they take it as obligations.
“To curb such inconveniences we have circulated a notice to Police departments, Dzongkhag and Health sectors to report on it,” said the labor officer.
To reduce hazards and calamities they now suggest having induction courses on OHS and nature of work for employers and government owned projects before they enter work places.
“Because it takes a lot of time to make individual workers aware about OHS and the number is also huge.” he said.
This exercise however will not be possible in private housing construction sectors as they are not going to construct houses every day and lacks technical person.
“But they should comply with all the OHS regulations to a minimum standard,” said the labor official.
The labor Ministry will send around 20 representatives to India to train in OHS measures but the response from the construction and related representatives has been very poor, said the Labour Officer.
He said that even if it is funded by government they are not willing to train their employees. They take refuge in ‘lack of man power’ in their agencies.
This year the Labor Ministry trained 198 representatives from various construction sectors, corporations and from government agencies. They were provided with basic health and safety measures.
“From 2009 till 2011 the ministry trained around 387 representatives including Dzongkhag engineers,” said the Labor officer.
The Director of Labor Department in Labor Ministry Jigme Thinley Namgyal said that OHS could be implemented effectively in Hydro projects in Punatshang Chhu phase I and II.
“PHPA has its own set of OHS policy and its internationally accepted norms,” said the Director. However Bhutanese employers are not willing to implement these regulations in their work places.