Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, making a purchase from the Bridge Supermarket at Charles Row Bridge, St. George, following a tour there last Friday. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

Government is seeking to certify businesses across the island as “safe”, and Massy Supermarket will be the first to carry the mark that aligns with the international Labour Organization (ILO) guidelines on occupational health and safety for workplaces.

This was disclosed last Friday by Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, following a tour of the Bridge Supermarket at Charles Row Bridge, St. George, and Massy Supermarket, Warrens, St. Michael.

The Minister told media representatives: “The Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI) is implementing what we call a Safe Business Certification Mark, and we want to start here with Massy because we are saying occupational health and safety within the work place is critical, and as we come out of the  COVID-19 crisis … we want to make sure that the workplaces, the small businesses, put the necessary health and  safety regulations in place that  persons can feel comfortable with returning  to work.”

Minister Sutherland explained that the proposed standard was aligned with the ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Standard, which is the World Standard for Occupational Health and Safety. 

And, he disclosed that it would be implemented by following all of the health protocols put in place during the COVID-19 crisis, by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

He said: “As we begin to open businesses … and we’ve moved to a phase where we have re-opened some of our manufacturing companies, car care companies, persons doing road work repairs, insurance companies, we want to make sure they are operating in a safe and healthy way. 

“So, the Occupational Health and Safety certification that will be instituted through my Ministry by the BNSI is geared towards making customers, retailers and business owners and employers feel comfortable that the necessary safety and health regulations will be put in place, and that Barbados will once again be seen as a place to do business … during and after the COVID-19 crisis.”

The Small Business Minister said he intends to see micro, small and medium enterprises leading the charge in putting the BNSI Safe Business Certification stamp on their business places. 

Managing Director of Massy Stores (Barbados) Ltd., Randall Banfield (left) showing Commerce Minister Dwight Sutherland some of the produce on sale at the supermarket during a tour last Friday. Also pictured are Director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Bertram Johnson (right) and Trading Standards Inspector 1, Chrispin Walkes (second left). (C.Pitt/BGIS)

Pointing out that this would emphasize that theirs is a place to do business safely, and that they possess the necessary emergency and hazard arrangements, Mr. Sutherland added it would also minimize claims to national insurance.

“That’s what it is all about – to ensure that the businesses don’t rack up costs in terms of not following safety and health regulations. We should see less sick claims, less injury claims, less hazard claims coming from businesses, once we institute this BNSI Safe Business Certification standard,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Director of Massy Stores, Randall Banfield, pointed out that Massy Supermarket was able to manage the very dynamic environment, and was ahead of the requests made by Government.

“In terms of PPE (personal protective equipment) and sanitizing were concerned, we were out there with the trolleys being sanitized and the baskets and the hands, the lines and the face shields and sneeze guards and social distancing and even behind the scenes in the offices in terms of the social distancing.”

He further noted that operating the supermarket proved difficult with management having to respond to lot of changes at very short notice, such as new opening hours, new protocols, shopping by alphabet and new sanitizing methods.

Commending his staff for going way beyond to ensure normalcy existed, and Barbadians got food and supplies in very difficult circumstances, he stressed it was “an environment which would generally be classified as higher risk than most”, and staffers “had come out very willingly and put themselves on the frontline”.

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