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Naval death reinforces need for safety policy

By: Carolyn Thompson

ACCRA – A naval worker whose life jacket malfunctioned was swept away by strong currents after the life boat he was in capsized on Nov. 1.

Ordinary Seaman Assan Emmanuel was part of a group performing routine checks of vessels near the Jubilee Oil Fields close to Sekondi. He was returning to the navy ship after inspecting two fishing boats when the incident occurred.

“Just when the two boarding team members were ready to go on board the ship, a strong wave hit the life boat and the ship’s side, causing sea water to enter the life boat,” Colonel Atintande, the director of public relations of the Ghana Armed Forces, said in a news release.

Atintande said while the life jackets of three others inflated automatically, Assan’s did not.

“Emergency activation procedures conducted by the others to assist to inflate his life jacket failed,” he said in the release. “His colleagues lost contact with him as he went down quickly due to the swift and strong current around the Jubilee fields.”

The incident revives concerns that Ghana’s worker safety laws are lacking.

On April 28, during World Labour Day, several groups urged President John Dramani Mahama to pass a draft Occupational Safety and Health policy.

“The country is in a state of deficit when it comes to issues of occupational safety,”  Davidson Nana Yaw Akwada, the executive secretary for the Bureau of Public Safety, told Citi FM at the time.

The legislation has yet to be passed.

On Aug. 20, Ghana ratified the Maritime Labour Convention, which is meant to implement international standards for training and certification of seafarers, ship safety and security, and the prevention of ship source pollution.

But for Assan, those safety procedures failed.

The news release said a search was immediately launched after Assan was swept away. Around 3 p.m. the following day, when it became apparent Assan could not be seen, the navy ship return to harbour at Sekondi.

Neighbouring fishing villages, from Elmina to Hall Assini, are assisting in recovering Assan’s remains.

 

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