Lotus no.68 (IT Health & Safety)
LOTUS no.68 - Political and Social Commentary
Wednesday 7th of January, 2003
PREVENTION OF HEALTH RISKS IN THE COMPUTER INDUSTRY
So far all of the announced foreign investment in the information technology sector concerns low level projects (data recovery, call centres, data input). The government has little hope of creating high level jobs in software design or computer engineering as anybody with relevant qualifications or experience would tend to shun Mauritius for much greener pastures abroad (an example is the team that was recently awarded a special mention in Le Mauricien at the end of the year).
Infosys, IBM, Bowman, etc., will basically create a new type of EPZ, where textile workers will be replaced by telephone operators and number crunchers. The other difference is that whereas the EPZ consists mainly of middle-aged manual workers, with little education, those that will be recruited in the new sector will be mostly young school leavers having completed secondary education.
Over the past three decades, many improvements have been brought to health and safety conditions in the industrial sector. However, it is strange to note, on the proposed eve of a new revolution with regard to employment in the information technology arena, that little, if anything, is being done with regard to implementation of safe working habits for workers who will spend half their life in front of a computer screen.
Yet most of the problems that are faced in this field are now well known. What is most needed is for preventive measures to be taken from the start. Simple requirements such as filter screens, adequate workspace environments including suitable chairs, tables and even keyboards, monitors and other hardware that are ergonomically adapted.
Steps should be taken immediately to ensure that all necessary legislation be introduced and implemented before the coming into operation of the cybercity and the other major call or data centres.
Unless, of course, the government wants to create a new type of sweat shop for our young unemployed?
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