Who is Responsible for the health of the Extractive Worker?

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oil rig
oil rig

By: Jacqueline P. Parditey

After four years of oil extraction, the interest of Ghanaian youth is aggressively geared towards working in this ?lucrative? sector. But who cares about the health and safety of these workers in both downstream and upstream.

oilArguably, the health of workers cannot be over emphasized in the extractive sector of Ghana. This is because the oil substance has a toxicological profile for total petroleum hydrocarbons which is a hazardous substance.

Notwithstanding that the effects of exposure to any hazardous substance depend on the dose, the duration, how one is exposed, personal traits and habits, and whether other chemicals are present. What are the steps put in place for the oil workers in this part of the world? In the Floating Production Storage Offloading (FPSO) and other oil companies, workers spend close to 12 hours on a shift.

In 1999, the agency for toxic substance and disease registry disclosed some striking facts about Public Health Statement for Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH), a term used to describe a broad family of several hundred chemical compounds that originally come from crude oil. TPH is really a mixture of chemicals. They are called hydrocarbons because almost all of them are made entirely from hydrogen and carbon.

Currently, oil spillage has been seen as normal even with the health hazard it carries. Oil, which contains this TPH released directly to water through spills or leaks, certain TPH fractions will float in water and form thin surface films which may affect bottom-feeding fish and organisms.

Some of the TPH compounds, particularly the smaller compounds such as benzene, toluene, and xylene (which are present in gasoline), can affect the human central nervous system of these workers yet what do they stand to achieve at the end of their year, just a lay-off exercise from company heads due to one tangible reason or mere citations.

Today, the Sekondi-Takoradi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (STCCI) holds ??Ghana extractive safety conference to promote health and safety of the extractive sector under the theme: ?Driving Industry Excellence through Health and Safety.?

The Chairman of the STCCI, Mr. Ato Van-Ess said the objective of the conference, ?Assessment of health and safety issues and their impact on emerging economies? will be a focal point.

?It will be a platform for analysing and developing evidence to advocate the promulgation of the necessary policies and laws for occupational health and safety in Ghana.??

Genuinely, workers will be proud to say they are being cared for due to the tips and allowance given for one major assignment or another but does the Petroleum Revenue Management Act 2011 (Act 815) highlight some health benefits of these workers? If so have structures been put in place for monitoring and evaluation of this laws or regulations? What does the law say about those who flout it?

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