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Kiambu construction site owners urged to prioritize safety

Construction site owners in Kiambu have been urged to prioritize safety of their workers by implementing provided guidelines as the world marks health and safety at work day.

Speaking to KNA Thursday, Kiambu National Construction Authority (NCA) Regional coordinator Engineer Meshack Otieno said that there has been a challenge when it comes to implementation and following of safety at work guidelines which has led to compromising of workers’ safety.

“Site owners are also required to register their sites with Directorate of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), acquire approval from National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), NCA as well as the County, however, these guidelines are not followed as many sites are not registered,” he said.

Engineer Otieno further noted that other guidelines that are key is having a safety officer and proper supervision on site, provision of Person Protective Equipment (PPEs) to all workers and enforcing their use and maintaining a register of all workers.

“All workers should be insured and provided with the right tools and equipment for use on site.” he added.

The coordinator urged all construction workers to always mind their safety and health at work by ensuring that they use properly all the PPEs provided, as he noted that they are not willing to wear them.

The construction industry, popularly known as mjengo has become one of the most depended on source of income that provides casual opportunities in post Covid1-9 pandemic which saw many people lose their jobs.

Previously, the industry used to be flooded with men, however, that has changed recently with women joining to earn a living owing to tough economic times.

Catherine Nthenge, a single mother of two told KNA that she had survived on casual labour like cleaning up and washing the houses and transporting water and materials to different areas after losing her house help job when covid-19 struck Kenya.

Another parent, Timothy Wangila, told KNA that he has been in the construction industry for five years and it has helped him attend to his family despite few challenges. Timothy said that some of the challenges he faces are having to wake up very early in the morning and returning home late which denies him opportunity to spend time with his family.

“Sometimes, when the job is far away, we have to stay until it’s over. One time I was away for a month,” he said.

According to a foreman, Chrispinus Mutie, there was no much work in 2020 when covid-19 was at peak but at least there were opportunities that helped people feed their families as casual labourers usually earn between Sh700 and Sh1, 500 depending on the work they do on the site.

According to an Economic Survey by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) 2020, the construction industry grew at a compounded annual growth of 13.8 percent from 3.16 billion US dollars in 2015 to 5.2 billion US dollars in 2019, while the wages of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers rose by 4 percent in 2020.

World Day for Safety and Health, is celebrated on 28th April each year to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally. This year the day focused on enhancing social dialogue towards a culture of safety and health at work under the theme “Act together to build a positive safety and health culture.”

By Lucy Mwikali

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