KARACHI: Speakers at a seminar on occupational safety and health (OSH) have stressed the importance of hazard-free environment to mitigate the risks facing workers and to attain business sustainability.

The seminar was organised by the Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on the occasion of ‘International Day on Safety and Health at Work’ on Monday.

Sindh Secretary Labour Noor Muhammad Leghari said an inspection team had been formed to check whether or not factory owners were complying with safety and health standards in the province. He said presently the province was in the process of evolving its occupational safety and health policy.

In his presentation, Fire Protection Association of Pakistan’s Director Wajahat Ullah Khan recalled Baldia factory fire — considered to be the country’s deadliest industrial incident in which 250 people were killed — and identified the causes of the fire and solution to avoid such accidents.

Earlier in his welcome address, EFP President Khawaja Muhammad Nauman said that this year there would be special focus on the “safety and health in the use of chemicals at work”, as most accidents occur because of the chemicals’ presence at workplaces.

According to the ILO, “Chemicals pose a broad range of potential adverse effects, from health hazards such as cancers and physical hazards like flammability, to environmental hazards such as widespread contamination and toxicity to aquatic life.”

The ILO estimates that around two million people die every year from work-related accidents and diseases. Nearly 160 million people suffer from work-related diseases, with around 270 million fatal and non-fatal accidents happening every year.

Nauman also announced that the EFP, with the support of ITC-ILO and DECP, would soon start International Certificate Training Programmes on OSH for the line managers, supervisors and workers.