Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, in discussion with General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, Sir Roy Trotman, at the workshop.
(C. Pitt/BGIS)

Employers are being urged to invest in the occupational Safety and Health of their employees, and not only the environment, but the ???total worker’.

This suggestion has come from Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, while speaking at the opening ceremony of a workshop on Occupational Safety and Health and the Environment, hosted by the Barbados Employers’ Confederation and the International Labour Organisation.

She told participants, "I want to encourage policy workers within the workplace, as we consider occupational safety and health; to look at our employees holistically and consider their general health as well.?? It is not just about having the ergonomic workstations and preventing repetitive strain injuries"…

"I want employers to consider the total worker.?? I urge you to consider the whole well-being of our workers, not just the workstations and how we can improve systems in the workplace but how we can make our work environment better for workers."????????

Participants, comprised primarily, of managers, directors and decision makers within various organisations, were also encouraged by Dr. Byer Suckoo to take advantage of the amount of time employees spent in the workplace.?? She asked them to use that time to sensitise workers about safety and health issues such as chronic non-communicable diseases and domestic violence.??

Highlighting the 16 days of activism against domestic violence, she stressed, "I don’t want to see workplaces turning a blind eye to domestic violence.?? It may not occur within your workplace.?? But I don’t have to tell you, if any of your workers are victims of domestic violence it will ultimately affect their productivity."

Underscoring the importance legislation plays in occupational safety and health, the Labour Minister explained that the Sexual Harassment Bill would contribute to the well-being of women and vulnerable groups in the workplace.

Revealing that the Bill was approved to go for drafting by the Chief Parliamentary council, Dr. Byer Suckoo said, "We can’t be talking about Occupational Safety and Health and looking at repetitive injuries, safe systems and mechanics and not ensuring that the interactions among our employees and interactions between employer and employee are also considered safe."

She added that the Employment Rights Bill was also critical to ensuring workers felt confident and comfortable in the workplace. The Labour Minister advised participants that, "to achieve this noble goal, you will be required to develop occupational safety and health management systems appropriate to the nature of business."??

Declaring that ‘Decent Work being equal to Safe Work’ should not be viewed as clich?? but rather a "key principle to be applied in the world of work", Dr. Byer Suckoo remarked that safety systems should focus on physical hazards, organisational culture and workers’ well-being.??

She added that a comprehensive safety and health management system should also address training, institutional strengthening and ensure the necessary competencies were available within an organisation.

The Labour Minister told the participating employers, that such systems could serve as an appropriate tool for self-regulation.??


Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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