Chief Labour Officer, Vincent Burnett (FP)

Employers are being encouraged to establish safety and health committees within their organisations!????????

The advice has come from Chief Labour Officer, Vincent Burnett, as Barbados is set to observe World Day for Safety and Health at Work, on April 28.

Mr. Burnett said that according to Section 102 of the Factories Act, and Section 103 of the Safety and Health at Work (SHAW) Act, workplaces were legally required to establish committees since they were critical to creating and maintaining a safe and healthy working environment.

He added that the legislation also called for consultation and discussion on safety matters between management and employees in all workplaces, and for the creation of a safety and health committee within companies that employed 50 or more persons.

"The Labour Department is instrumental in going into workplaces as many offices call us for advice in setting up safety committees.?? Those committees are to include an equal number of management and employee representatives and are to look generally at safety and health conditions within the operation as a whole," Mr. Burnett outlined.

Moreover, he underlined that employee representatives on the safety committee should be approved by a trade union – provided the organisation’s workers were unionised. However, he stressed that those representatives did not have to be members of a union but they must have been chosen by the majority of employees.
He noted that where less than 25 persons were employed in an organisation, a safety delegate should be appointed to represent the interests of employees and that individual would be required to consult with workers and management regarding safety and health concerns.??

"Having these things in place encourages everyone to take proactive measures to prevent accidents or injuries within the workplace. Not only does it save the organisation financially, it is also a form of employee engagement where you see both staff and management actively conducting workplace inspections, excluding unsafe acts and implementing safety procedures," he said.

Mr. Burnett also emphasised that legislation called for management and employees to have access to information concerning safety and health issues at the workplace.?? He further noted that Section 338A of the Accidents and Occupational Diseases (Notifications) Act required that all accidents and injuries which occurred while on the job were to be recorded at the workplace.?? He also pointed out that where accidents resulted in the injured person being away from his or her normal duties for more than three days, those accidents should be reported to the Labour Department

The Chief Labour Officer expressed satisfaction that Barbadian businesses were taking safety and health issues seriously, adding that the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) section of the Labour Department had recorded an increase in the number of requests from employers who wanted assistance with setting up safety and health committees.

"These safety and health committees, meetings and delegates are really self-regulatory mechanisms that look at the operations and how best they comply with legislation.?? They help management and employees to take a team-oriented approach to risk assessment, identifying risks and hazards, and improving the work environment.?? They are considered to be essential tools of communication that are effective in addressing and correcting existing safety measures and reducing conflict and loss of productivity," he affirmed.??

Organisations or persons who wish to receive more information on Safety and Healthy Committees and safety concerns for the workplace, should contact the OSH section of the Labour Department at telephone numbers 310-1523 or 310-1524.


Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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