|Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo (second from left), enjoys a skit being performed at the ceremony to mark the opening of Occupational Safety and Health Week. Also pictured are General Secretary of CTUSAB, Dennis Deppeiza; Acting Senior Labour Officer, Linda Bowen; Second Vice President of the Barbados Employers’ Confederation, Dawn Jemmott-Lowe; and Deputy Chief Labour Officer, Claudette Hope-Greenidge.
Over 170 workplaces have been assessed so far as part a Public Sector Survey, which was recently commissioned to ascertain the occupational safety and health conditions in government owned and occupied premises.
This disclosure came today from Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, while delivering the keynote address at the opening ceremony of Occupational Safety and Health Week at Accra Beach Hotel.
Dr. Byer Suckoo noted that the audit was started last May 16 by officers of the Environmental Health Department of the Ministry of Health, and the Occupational Safety and Health Section of the Labour Department, and would be completed during the coming weeks.
This week’s series of seminars is being hosted under the theme Safety Management System – A Tool for Modern Business, and the Minister expressed the view that the sessions should be seen as a catalyst that would engender a new approach to safety and health here.
"The social partners must seek to adopt and adapt occupational safety and health systems and practices to benefit workers, the business community and, by extension, the nation. In this regard, organisations need to view the implementation of a Safety Management System as a viable tool for improving the management of successful business," she suggested.
An Occupational Health and Safety Management System is the introduction of plans, actions and procedures to systematically manage health and safety in the workplace. According to Dr. Byer Suckoo, "such a system sets out to achieve the goal of making sure that every employee returns home healthy and safe, while business resources are efficiently utilised to maximise profitability".
She proffered the view that with more companies implementing safety management systems this could be advantageous to the country in the long run.
The Minister noted that a safety management system would supply the framework for improved business, provide greater opportunity for worker participation and the structure for effective hazard recognition, so measures could be instituted to mitigate vulnerabilities.
"The competitive nature of business makes it absolutely imperative that continuous review and improvement is a feature of the system. Through this continuous review and improvement, you can identify your assets, among them being efficient plant and skilled employees," she assured the private and public sector managers and executives attending the opening ceremony.
Dr. Byer Suckoo said the size of a business should not be viewed as a determinant of the need for an occupational health and safety management system. "The importance of securing the safety of employees, the profitability of a business and the minimisation of occurrences of ill health remain essential in any circumstance, whatever the size of the organisation," she stressed.
She disclosed that the Deputy Director of Management Systems for Safety and Health at Work in Mexico, Luis Miranda Cid, would be in Barbados next Tuesday, July 12, to facilitate a consultation on the use of a national safety and health self- management system. The objective of the consultation is to share the Mexican experience in the implementation of its self-management system, with a view to replicating a similar model in Barbados.