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Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan believes the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified how important it is to establish a resilient Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) culture and the importance of maintaining such a culture.

He emphasized this today while addressing the start of a series of webinars to mark OSH Week, being observed here from July 11 to 16.

The webinars are a collaborative effort between the Labour Department and the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health. They will place the spotlight on: Indoor Air Quality, Preventing Violence and Harassment at Work, the National Workplace Wellness Policy and Practical Tips for Safety Committees.

Minister Jordan noted: “A resilient national occupational safety and health culture is one in which the right to a safe and healthy working environment is respected at all levels. In such a system, governments, employers and workers actively participate in securing a safe and healthy working environment through well-defined rights, responsibilities and duties. The highest priority must be the prevention of injury and illness.”

Noting the timeliness of the theme: “A Safe Workplace – Now more than Ever”, he added this will prompt us to look very closely at our current pandemic situation, to think about the type of safety and health systems we want to attain and the roadmap to navigate this uncharted course.

“COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of the world of work. Consider the possible risk of transmission of the virus in workplaces, the changes in how, when and where work is done, and the risks and unintended consequences that may arise from measures taken to mitigate the spread of the virus,” he stated.

Alluding to the significance of the webinar’s topics, the Labour Minister identified the need to include the subject of Violence and Harassment within the context of the traditional workplace as well as the non-traditional setting, given the increased prevalence of alternative arrangements such as teleworking and remote working.

He noted too that this year, for the first time in the history of OSH Week celebrations, a partnership with the Learning and Development Directorate, Ministry of Public Service will see the hosting of a webinar exclusively for public officers.

Adding the activity would centre on ergonomics and remote working and best practices in those areas, he said: “We have discussed Indoor Air Quality before but due to the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent volcanic ash fall, there are now new dimensions to be addressed.

“We have discussed Safety committees before but not within the context of a pandemic. Similarly, focus on the National Workplace Wellness Policy is not new but the critical importance of wellness is even more evident in the current environment,” the Minister stressed.

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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