The prevailing economic climate should not be used as an excuse for neglecting the safety of employees, or for not maintaining efficient grievance handling procedures.

This note of caution came recently from Minister of State in the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development, Patrick Todd. ??He was speaking at a workshop for principals of secondary schools at the Lester Vaughan Secondary School, Cane Garden, St. Thomas.

"Living through the current global economic climate makes it even more important than ever for us to take safety and health matters seriously.?? There may well be the temptation for some employees to contemplate cutting back in areas relating to safety.?? Such backward steps must not be allowed to happen….?? In fact, this is a good time for us all to reinforce the message that organisations succeed by taking common sense and proportionate approaches to risk," he advised.

Minister Todd added that despite the fact that schools did not currently possess the relevant human resource personnel to drive the industrial relations process forward, principals of today were now expected to perform a more diversified role than their predecessors.

"…principals of today have a vastly different role to play from that of their predecessors of the 50’s, 60’s or even 70’s.?? There are myriad challenges with which you have to contend.?? Key issues such as managing risks, the setting up of joint safety and health committees, indoor air quality, safe management of chemicals and other environmental issues, will have to be dealt with by the administration of schools," he stated.

During the one-day workshop principals engaged in talks on "Grievance Handling" and "The Safety and Health at Work Legislation 2005: Its Implications for Schools".????

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