Occupational Safety And Health Essential In A Green Economy

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Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo said that SHaW Act provides a framework that complements the green economy and workers’ well-being. (G. Brewster/BGIS)??

Some green technologies and green jobs are creating new and additional hazards in the workplace, and Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo has cautioned that safety and health are still paramount in the Green Economy.

She was speaking at the opening of a seminar hosted by REA EnviroHealth International at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre today for World Day for Safety and Health at Work.

The Labour Minister outlined that this year’s theme was Promoting Safety and Health in a Green Economy, and noted that it provided her Ministry with an opportunity to highlight areas that may be affected by green technology.

"Green technologies do not necessarily mean the absence of occupational hazards. Occupational safety and health in green economy should, therefore, not be taken for granted. I am not saying that we don’t pursue green practices, but rather, that we weigh the benefits against the risks every time; and continue our pursuits of practices that are more advantageous all-round," Dr. Byer Suckoo stressed.

She continued:?? "Green technologies also have associated with them, traditional hazards such as working in confined spaces, airborne contaminates, noise, fire and working at heights."

She pointed out that the installation of solar panels on roofs and elevated surfaces which required work at heights, were other types of hazards as well as lifting and moving of heavy equipment, material or machinery.

An additional example she observed was the substitution of hydro-chlorofluorocarbons for the more environmentally friendly chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).?? The Labour Minister disclosed that CFCs increased the risk of workers being exposed to carcinogens – which are substances or radiation agents that cause cancer.

Dr. Byer Suckoo told the attendees that there were ways the concepts of occupational safety and health and the concepts of environmental management could be merged. Indicating that organisations should train members of the safety committees and safety delegates, she stated that Safety and Health Officers from the Labour Department were available to provide assistance to workplaces, if needed.

"I am proud to report that my Ministry recognises the need to keep abreast with the latest technologies and scientific research. Consequently, Safety and Health Officers are regularly trained and equipped in order to be able to recognise the hazards that may be associated with any new technologies, but also to be in a better position to assist management [and staff] with the development and implementation of effective policies and programmes," she said.

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Garbage is sorted at the Divi Southwinds Hotel. Here members of the Green Team point out their "green" bins. Minister Suckoo noted that several Barbadian companies were adopting green initiatives. (A. Miller/BGIS)

Reiterating that the Labour Department played a role in ensuring the transition to green technologies, she affirmed that the department had already encountered Barbadian companies that embraced the notion of "greening".

In conclusion, the Minister outlined that the "shift to a green economy may be a pathway to sustainable development and that the Safety and Health at Work (SHaW) Act provided a framework that complemented the green agenda or economy.

shamkoe.pile@barbados.gov.bb

Author: Shamkoe Pil??
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