The Labour Department will soon be conducting a survey on occupational safety and health conditions within the public sector.

This disclosure has come from acting Senior Safety and Health Officer, Alison Elcock, who said the survey, commissioned by the Cabinet of Barbados, seeks to gather evidence about the current working conditions of public sector employees. It will be undertaken between March and May.

Mrs. Elcock explained that under the existing Factories Act, the vast majority of public sector workplaces were exempt from routine inspections, therefore, no information was currently available.

She pointed out that Safety and Health Officers of the Labour Department, as well as a specially selected team of Environmental Health Officers from the Ministry of Health, would carry out the examinations at approximately 200 workplaces. A representative sample of public sector offices will be randomly selected and the officials will visit health care institutions and laboratories; schools and child care facilities; public baths and beach facilities; security services; group homes and similar residential workplaces; and office type buildings.

During the visits, Mrs. Elcock said, "officers will collect information on the number of employees, types of processes undertaken at the workplace and the existence of policies, risk assessments and safety committees, among other things.

They will also examine the physical conditions of the workplace, such as floors and passages; emergency procedures; indoor air quality; ergonomics; chemical storage; use of machinery; ventilation; and other occupational safety and health matters."

The visits will be unannounced, but as is the customary practice, officers will request that a management representative, and, if possible, designated employee participate in the walk-through inspection.

Mrs. Elcock urged all Heads of Departments and Senior Officers to put arrangements in place to facilitate their participation in the survey, in the event that their workplace is selected. "This can be achieved by notifying members of staff of the pending survey and authorising their full cooperation with the Labour Department representatives during this exercise," she surmised.

The official warned, however, that pre-set appointments would not be made with departments, explaining that the Labour Department’s approach was necessary to ensure the integrity of the survey findings.

The acting Senior Safety and Health Officer stressed: "The success of this initiative will rely heavily on timely participation by the workplaces visited. The support of all public officers is, therefore, being sought as we try to promote the maintenance of desirable occupational safety and health standards within the public sector."

For further information, the Labour Department may be contacted at 310-1524 or email

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