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LNRCS laments impact of Climate Change

Red Cross outlines impediments of Climate Change on workers’ safety and health.

By Naneka A. Hoffman

Monrovia, Liberia, May 1, 2024 – The Liberia National Red Cross Society (LNRS) business manager, Marcus D. Washington, has noted that Climate Change disrupts weather patterns, posing significant global risks to workers’ safety and health.

He named some of the effects of Climate Change as heat stress, increased UV radiation, worsened air pollution, extreme weather events, industrial accidents, vector-borne diseases, and chemical exposure.

Speaking on Monday, April 29, 2024, at the celebration of World Day for Safety & Health at Work 2024 in Monrovia, Mr. Washington said the purpose of World Safety Day, also known as the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, is an annual international event observed on April 28th each year.

He said the day aims to encourage governments, employers, employees, and stakeholders to collaborate and take action to reduce workplace accidents, injuries, and occupational diseases under the theme, World Day for Safety and Health at Work, to explore the impacts of Climate Change on Occupational Safety and Health.

Mr. Washington noted that Climate Change isn’t just harming the world’s planet and its wellbeing, but also making work more dangerous, adding that workers are often on the frontlines of these changes, experiencing them for longer and more intensely than most.”

He said this is because their jobs might put them outside in extreme weather, expose them to worsening air quality, or require them to work with hazardous materials that Climate Change might disrupt.

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He added that, as a result, Climate Change can make workplaces more hazardous, leading to a higher risk of injuries, illnesses, and even death.

He explained that the dangers may range from physical injuries due to extreme weather events to serious health problems like cancer, heart disease, breathing difficulties, eye damage, and even mental health issues.

However, he stressed the importance of Workplace First Aid Training in Exploring the Impacts of Climate Change on Occupational Safety and Health.

“We cannot overly emphasize the need and importance for employers to acquire first aid training knowledge for employees within their workplaces.”

He said workplace first aid training knowledge reduces costs of health insurance and medical bills and increases productivity.

According to him, employees can identify and prevent the risk of workplace accidents or emergencies as well as provide adequate first aid care when workplace accidents occur while awaiting 911.

He lamented that Climate Change and its effects on the workplace are a serious global problem and called for a collective effort to alleviate this threat. He added that this is why stakeholders, especially the Ministry of Labor, must enact, ensure, and enforce first aid training compliance in every workplace in Liberia. 

Keynotes speaker, Assistant Minister for Labour Standards at the Ministry of Labor, Emmanuel Zoh said the day marked another key development in the world of works.

Mr. Zoh noted that every time stakeholders gather to commemorate events that focus on protecting workers’ health, safety, and welfare, it signals their hope and desire to achieve a community of work where workers will leave home for work and return to their families safe and free from all work-related hazards.

He commended the Liberia National Red Cross Society and all other development partners for recognizing the roles that government and other stakeholders play in protecting workers from occupational health hazards and deaths.

He said the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Health, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), and other agencies, has been working tirelessly to design a National Safety Plan to develop a knowledge-based mechanism that will close the gap in understanding safe working conditions and guide workers and employers to a more decent work environment in Liberia.

According to him, the International Labour Convention (C155) provides for the adoption of a coherent national occupational safety and health policy and for action to be taken both by governments and within enterprises to promote occupational safety and health. 

Meanwhile, he said 2.4 billion workers out of a global workforce of 3.4 billion are likely to be exposed to excessive heat at some point. Liberia is no exception to this data, as the experience of heat waves remains unprecedented.

Liberia National Red Cross Society Secretary General Gregory Blamo explained that safety standards should be not only at workplaces but also at home, in the streets, and everywhere.

Mr. Blamo urged all to be eager to attain first aid knowledge rather than just rushing to assist an accident victim, cautioning that a “kind heart alone is not enough.”

He added that the Red Cross Society will initiate an awareness campaign on safety to ensure to first aid knowledge is attained by all.

“Kind hearts alone are not enough. If you don’t handle people properly, you make the bad situation worse. You must probably handle the person so that the person is saved. So, the Red Cross will lead a campaign on the awareness of safety across every sector,” he said.

At the same time, the Liberia National Fire Service cautioned entities to ensure safety compliance and a healthy environment for all workers while urging employees to ensure that safety standards are always adhered to. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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