Sharp rise in Zim’s occupational injuries, diseases


Zimbabwe has experienced sharp increases in occupational mishaps with the figures rising 2 443% to 133 000 workers who were injured and contracted work-related illness last year from about 5 231 cases recorded in 2018.

This is about 5% of total employed in Zimbabwe, estimated to be 2 896 994, according to official data from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTATS).

The estimates imply that every day approximately 364 workers are injured due to poor workplace safety and health place, representing a widespread problem and a substantial economic burden on individuals, employers and society as well.

This means higher workplace injuries and illness are adding to the economic crisis experienced in Zimbabwe, highlighting the need to invest in occupational safety and health (OSH).

According to ZIMSTATS, the injuries and work-related illnesses were largely due to mechanical and physical factors which caused about 68% of injuries and illness at the workplaces, according to the latest survey conducted by ZIMSTATS.

Out of the 133 000 injuries recorded in 2019, about 91698 suffered injuries at work places.

Of these, 76 367 were male while 15 331 were female.

About 36 961 suffered work-related illness with 23 311 being male and 13 650 being women while 4 307 suffered both injuries and work-related illness.

This means about 2 764 028 employees were not injured or contracted work-related illnesses.

About 3% of workers reported that they had been injured at work, while
1% suffered work-related illness.

Harare Province had the highest proportion at 37.8% followed by Mashonaland West (15.1%).

Matabeleland South had the lowest (1.5%).

“Most workers were injured in agriculture, forestry and fishing industries. Work related injuries were predominant in males,” ZIMSTATS researcher Moses Marewangepo said.

Marewangepo said ergonomic and chemical or biological causes contributed about 17% of injuries and illness. Other causes such as
electrical, lack of personal protective equipment, psychosocial and
ergonomic contributed to the balance.

The injuries and illnesses were happening in the country’s key economic sectors such as agriculture, mining, manufacturing and construction sectors, ZIMSTAT disclosed.

But, the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), told Business Times yesterday that their records show that there were 4 574 injuries and 47 fatalities last year, in sharp contrast to 133 000 revealed by ZIMSTATS.

The NSSA figure, however, does not cover the informal sector where employees who work in small enterprises far outnumber those who work in larger enterprises in Zimbabwe.

“NSSA records are for workers covered by the Accident Prevention
Workers Compensation Scheme and excludes the public/civil service and
informal sector,” NSSA marketing and communications executive
Tendai Mutseyekwa told Business Times.

“The Policy covers all workplaces and thus should apply even to the
informal sector. It is however not a piece of legislation which can be
enforced. The Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare
is working on having the policy provisions expressed in the new OSH
Bill,” Mutseyekwa said.

In 2018, there were 5 231 reported injuries and 76 fatalities, according to

In 2017, Zimbabwe recorded 5 007 injuries and 65 fatalities while
in 2016, there were 5 364 reported work related injuries with 63 deaths.

In 2015, 2014 and 2013, there were 5 380 injuries, 5 736 injuries and 5 666
injuries respectively. Mutseyekwa said NSSA does not certify companies.

However, NSSA assesses companies on their OSH performance.

“We look at different aspects which are a yardstick to measure how a
company’s performance compares to the set standards,” Mutseyekwa said

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