Unannounced inspections of workplaces are not an attempt to catch anyone ???red handed,’ but rather, a means of gaining an accurate analysis of the safety and health conditions at organisations.
Senior Safety and Health Officer at the Labour Department, Alison Elcock made this assertion in an interview this week with the Barbados Government Information Service.
Ms. Elcock noted that under Section 97 of the Safety and Health at Work (SHaW) Act: Safety and Health officers have the right to enter and inspect by day, any place which they have reasonable cause to believe are workplaces covered by the act.
"It must be understood by employers and their representatives that officers will make unannounced visits to workplaces, and that obstructing officers from carrying out their functions is an offence under this Act," she stressed.
Explaining that it was imperative for officers to be able to assess the true conditions that existed within the workplace, she pointed out that if some business persons knew of inspections beforehand, then ???window-dressing’ could occur.
"If window-dressing occurs, we cannot identify and address safety and health concerns or make accurate recommendations.?? We are here to work with the employers to improve their organisation’s conditions," the Senior Official said, adding that poor housekeeping was usually a dominant safety and health violation.
She further noted: "Our intervention is to work alongside the employer but we reserve the right to prosecute. However, the reality is people usually comply".
Adding that Safety and Health Officers would try to accommodate business owners whenever possible, Ms. Elcock said: "While Officers will try to minimise disruptions to the organisation, which may be caused by the timing of our visit, it is not the practice of the Labour Department to make appointments or give prior notice of inspection.?? Employers can, therefore, expect Safety and Health Officers to just turn up at organisations and produce our Labour Department identification."
All businesses will be covered under the SHaW Act.?? It will replace the Factories Act when it is proclaimed on or before January 1.