Organisations are breaking the law if they have no Safety and Health Committees in place.
Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, stressed this today as he addressed the launch of the Pharma Wellness Programme in the Community, at the Ivan Harewood Centre, Church Hill, Christ Church.
While welcoming the wellness programme, which is being led by Chief Executive Officer, Pharma Wellness International Inc., Lennox Prescod, the Minister took the opportunity to remind employing organisations that such committees were mandated by the Safety and Health At Work Act.
“There is a requirement in the Safety and Health At Work Act for organisations employing 25 persons or more to have a Safety and Health Committee; in other words, if you employ 25 persons or more, and you do not have a Safety and Health Committee, you are breaking the law, and I am putting it in that way because just like we look at those who shoplift as breaking the law, if you do not have a Safety and Health Committee at your work place, you are breaking the law.”
He added that organisations with under 25 workers are mandated by legislation to have safety delegates, who are to be selected by the workers.
Explaining the rationale behind this, he said the selection of safety delegates was not in the purview of the employer; safety was a matter that impacted workers and the Act was intended to ensure workers felt comfortable from a safety and health perspective.
Mr. Jordan further noted that as the Ministry increased its focus on wellness as opposed to just matters of safety and health or illness, it had been asking safety delegates and Safety and Health Committees to incorporate a focus on wellness in their activities.
Admitting this was not in the legislation, he said: “We are doing that while saying to employers, while saying to Safety and Health Committees, … while you call Mr. Prescod from Pharma Wellness, do not see that as a replacement for doing inspections, to make sure there are no ‘trip hazards’ and that there are no opportunities for persons to have accidents or near misses at work. But we want our Safety and Health Committees to recognise that wellness is important and well employees have better health outcomes.”
The Minister had earlier remarked that Barbados was losing too many people to debilitation caused by ill health, and he said in order for it to experience the economic growth that it desired and to provide sustainable livelihoods for its residents, as many people as possible need to be fully involved and fully productive.
“At the same time, as few people as possible should be reliant on the health care system for treatment as well as being reliant on systems of social protection,” he added.
Expressing support for the Pharma Wellness Programme, Mr. Jordan told those gathered that to attain the goal of wellness “really, really” required the involvement of all stakeholders in Barbados.
“Pharma Wellness International Inc. is one of those stakeholders. Pharma Wellness International Inc. is an important stakeholder in this matter of attaining wellness in our society. For a number of years, Pharma Wellness has been conducting programmes to address chronic non-communicable diseases and to restore people to quality lives.
This morning we welcome their involvement in creating a population of people who are well, who are healthy and who can be productive residents leading fulfilled lives. We wish this community programme much success and we look forward to this programme making a significant difference in the lives of our people,” the Labour Minister said.
The Pharma Wellness programme started in 2015, and currently has a membership of over 1000 persons. The intervention is titled “Eating Healthy, Exercising and Changing Lifestyles”.
It focuses on improving members’ biometric outcomes, physical activity and healthy eating. Members are also provided with access to the website pharmawellness.net and other interventional activities.