The Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Labour and Social Protection Florence Bore has urged companies to ensure adequate safety systems are in place to prevent occupational hazards.
CS Bore says it is the responsibility of development companies to mainstream social, environmental, health and safety measures in their operations.
She made the remarks while on a familiarization tour of Base Titanium mining company in Kwale County.
The Labour and Social Protection minister says companies should not be making profits at the expense of the safety of their workers.
She noted that the government does not want to lose lives because of negligence of safety regulations at the workplace and underscored the need to ensure safety of workers is not compromised.
She was accompanied by Kwale County Commissioner Meru Mwangi, Msambweni MP Feisal Bader, Secretary Occupational Safety and Health Services Dr. Musa Nyandusi and Base Titanium General Manager (GM) for External Affairs Simon Wall.
The mining firm located in Msambweni Sub County of Kwale, simply known as Base produces ilmenite, rutile and zircon which are all considered critical minerals and represents a significant impact on the local and national economy.
Ms. Bore said she is in Kwale to witness the mineral site operations and more specifically the occupational safety and health aspects which are key to providing a conducive workplace and safety to communities and the environment.
She says labour intensive organizations should strive to put in place watertight safety systems noting that nothing can be compared to human lives and no amount of compensation can bring back lives.
CS Bore noted that safety was the right thing that businesses must encourage to increase the quality of output at all times.
She commended Base Titanium for its occupational safety programmes to protect workers and urged other mining companies to ensure safety of workers and host communities.
CS Bore has urged all mining firms to ensure that their employees undergo mandatory comprehensive safety induction programmes noting that the government places high premium on the safety of workers in the mining industry.
She has expressed the need for organizations to ensure safe and healthy workplaces so as not just to protect workers from injury and illnesses, but lower injury/illness costs as well.
The CS commended Base Titanium for putting in place a structured training and skills transfer programmes covering on-the-job training for permanent employees, as well as tailored programmes for graduates, interns and apprentices.
She says the mining firm has partnered with her ministry through the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA), The Kenya National Qualification Authority (KNQA) and International Labour Organisation (ILO) to pilot and launch the first Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programme in the country.
“The RPL programme identifies, assesses and certifies a candidate’s knowledge, skills competencies and experience gained through work skills and industry exposure putting emphasis on applicants learning and not on the way competencies were acquired,” she said.
She says the programme provides a pathway to gaining a formal qualification that ultimately improves employability and skills mobility for all beneficiaries.
Mr. Wall says Base regularly carries out competency training for safety officers who get certified to carry out safety management and systems within the mining firm.
“We deliberately invest in safety and promote safety culture in all our endeavours,” he said, adding that they ensure only safety professionals are hired in the mining fields.
Wall says Base Titanium puts a premium on health and safety by minimizing hazards at the workplace to forestall the loss of lives.
He says Base Titanium Mine Operations prioritizes the recruitment of local communities via a ‘fencing system’ that is specifically designed to maximize employment opportunities and project benefits for local communities.
By Hussein Abdullahi