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One of the aims of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Week is to provide tools to strengthen OSH systems at the country and enterprise levels in order to achieve the desired sustainability, inclusiveness and resilience needed to better face crises, now and in the future.

Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan today highlighted this to participants at the opening of a series of webinars to mark OSH Week, being observed here from July 11 to 16.

Reminding participants that the Global Call to Action, at the just concluded June session of the International Labour Conference, acknowledged that recovery efforts must be sustainable, inclusive and resilient, he added that underlying these efforts was the need to ensure the approach to recovery from COVID-19 was coherent and human-centred.

This was stressed against the backdrop that the pandemic had led to the loss of the equivalent of 161 million full-time jobs worldwide, with women, young people, and those in the informal economy being disproportionately affected.

Minister Jordan reasoned: “The crisis has disrupted the education, it has disrupted training and employment of many young people, it has reduced the availability of employment opportunities, reducing the ability to successfully transition from education and training to the world of work. It also has resulted in reduced access to continuing education.”

Participants heard that Government had counteracted some of the COVID-19 impacts by providing free online training through the Commonwealth of Learning and the National Transformation Initiative (NTI) platforms, with the latter offering an introductory OSH course developed by the Occupational Safety and Health Section of the Ministry with the support of the International Labour Organization.

“This course provides a strong foundation on which new entrants to the world of work and those seeking to hone their OSH skills can develop themselves,” said the Labour Minister, as he urged employers, at the level of their own workplaces, to be cognizant that, though times may be tough, their responsibility remained “to ensure that risks to human beings are as low as reasonably practicable, while doing their best to manage cost and stay in business”.

He added: “As has been the case with employees, employers are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunities to improve arrangements for workplace safety and health. Participation in this week’s activities is one such opportunity. Subscribing to other programmes that are offered by my Ministry during the year, as well as those provided by social partners, are other useful resources.”

While summing up the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the volcanic ash fall, the freak storm and Hurricane Elsa has had on many persons, the Labour Minister said the psychological impact of these simultaneous threats must not be overlooked.

“Now is the time more than ever to be our brother’s and sister’s keeper. Many persons have suffered stress, anxiety and depression due to the multiple effects of the pandemic, the clean-up, and the repair or replacement of damaged property.

“Overall, wellness can be negatively impacted when we are unable to manage effectively our various work, family and other responsibilities. In some cases, it is a balancing act to properly manage these responsibilities whether working in the conventional workplace or working from home,” he contended.

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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