Lacking occupational health and safety frameworks

No doubt, the developed world is experiencing industrial growth, yet the occupational health and safety (OHS) has something which has equally emerged as an important sector. Production at work place or industrial unit is of course a priority, but health and safety of work force and surrounding population needs a serious consideration. It is a point of concern that health issue of the workforce as well as surrounding population of an industrial site has always been under-emphasized historically in relation to more basic science-oriented research. Main factor behind this negative or discouraging approach has been and is the industrial unit runners. Maybe it is due to the lack of awareness about health risks or safety of industrial plants or criminal thinking, but this occupational health and safety has hardly got any recognition especially in the third world states including Pakistan. The developed world has owned and fully realized that the goal of intervention research in OHS is to translate basic research knowledge into public health action and benefits. These states involved experts from labour, industry, academia, and government who developed conceptual models of intervention research in OHS with the purpose to provide an integrating framework for diverse activities and develop common language to facilitate communication. However, in Pakistan the progress on OHS has always been at a weaker stage. Lack of effective laws, weak implementation, lack of awareness about health and safety at work place, financial considerations and lethargic attitude are the factors that keep the stakeholders away from making any progress in this important sector. There are numerous examples where health and safety parameters were totally ignored while establishing industrial plants. Stone crushing plants, digging of minerals, underwater activities, factories of sensitive chemicals, textile sectors, heavy machinery making units, steel mills, ship breaking activities, disposal of electronic waste, etc. are the sites where health and safety rules are hardly practiced. It has been noticed that populations in the close proximity of chemical factories have very common diseases of lungs disorder, skin problems and memory loss. In fact, we need to focus on the overall health costs to affected workers as well as implementation costs to employers. Expanded evaluation research in these areas will foster the development of policies that are minimally burdensome to employers and maximally effective in reducing exposures and health effects. With a continued emphasis on generating information for action, OHS policy-level evaluation research will support the continuing improvement of policy development, and the government, in collaboration with with all other stakeholders, can play a significant role to make progress in this sector.

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