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Increasing number of injuries at work

[Jordan] Construction workers are required to wear protection helmets, but employers ignore this. [Date picture taken: 07/03/2006]
Maria Font de Matas/IRIN
Construction workers are required to wear protection helmets, but employers ignore this
On-the-job injuries are on the rise, say labour leaders, who add that a lack of “deterrent legislation” has made it easier for companies to avoid using safety equipment to protect workers. “There were instances when workers’ lives were at risk,” said Fathallah Emrani, head of the Jordanian Federation of Textile Industries. He believes many companies care only about profit while the government is most interested in keeping private investors happy. “But the violators of safety procedures were only fined or given warnings.” According to figures released by the Ministry of Labour, the numbers of work injuries have steadily increased in the past three years. At least 12,600 workers were injured in 2003; 12,850 in 2004; and a whopping 13,800 last year. Opining that “worker safety isn’t a priority for the government or investors”, Emrani recommended that safety inspectors be granted more authority, including the right to shut down facilities in which workers face real danger. Mahmoud Hyari, head of the Association of Construction and Logging Industries, believes that a lack of safety awareness among workers is largely to blame. “Companies should educate workers about occupational hazards and teach them how to deal with emergency situations,” said Hyari. “But currently, they don’t.” Hyari noted that many employers avoid using safety equipment due to the added costs. Labour ministry officials, meanwhile, argue that they lack sufficient staff to conduct spot-checks at all of the kingdom’s many factories and manufacturing plants. At present, the ministry only has 80 inspectors responsible for covering about 40,000 companies. According to ministry data, safety inspectors only examined some 5,800 facilities last year, out of which 373 were found to be in violation of worker-safety procedures. “Many companies go unnoticed for years due to a lack of proper supervision,” said one labour ministry official on condition of anonymity. He added that the ministry was currently in the process of raising the number of inspectors to meet demand. MBH/AR/AM

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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