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Acting Chief Labour Officer, Victor Felix, is advising prospective home owners to seek the advice of the Barbados Light and Power Company Limited (BL&P) before starting building construction.

He offered this advice in light of calls received to the BL&P about the close proximity of power lines to the proposed construction sites during a seminar entitled: Promoting Safety around Electricity, and the launch of a public relations campaign to sensitise the public in the Main Conference Room 2nd Floor, Warrens Office Complex, recently.

The PR campaign is a joint effort between the Labour Department, the Barbados Light and Power Company Ltd., the Barbados Government Information Service and the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH).

Mr. Felix lamented that too often, “things were done in the reverse with reference to the start of construction and called for collaboration between entities involved in this type of work and the utility companies.

“The Light and Power may also be contacted if the construction activity is hindered because BL&P equipment such as poles or stabilising wires may be preventing guard walls from being example. The utility company will then be asked to address a situation which should have been highlighted before construction started.  Persons should carry out an assessment of the property and to make early contact with Barbados Light and Power or any utility company before the initiation of construction works,” he pointed out.

The Chief Labour Officer further stated that under the Safety and Health at Work Act (SHaW) Act, persons at work have a right to be protected from adverse effects of electricity.  He further stated that an assessment of risks should be conducted to ensure that the potential exposure to electricity is eliminated completely or reduced to an acceptable minimum.

“Employers are reminded that it is their responsibility to ensure the safety and health of employees and the public, if they are at risk from work activities. In examining the number of persons injured in the construction industry, it is very interesting to note that in many cases the number of persons injured in the construction industry, sometimes outnumber those who are tasked with working directly with power lines.”

Mr. Felix continued: I find that quite interesting.  For me, it speaks to the ability to recognise hazards.  It also says that with the necessary training in hazard recognition and operational technics as required by the SHaW Act, persons would be able to assess risk and minimize contact events.”

Meanwhile, Pete Collette, who is the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association representative on the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, (NACOSH), highlighted a safety statistic which stated that 80 per cent of accidents are caused by the person involved.

“…It means that we are our own worst enemies.  If we take the time to learn and apply the learning, then obviously that statistic can change downward and the odds then start to shift in our favour.  It also means that the people at the Safety and Health Department don’t have to work as hard as they are presently because there would be less safety incidents at work,” he noted.


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