OPENING CEREMONY OF SAFETY AND HEALTH WEEK – KEYNOTE: DENNIS DE PEIZA, GENERAL SECRETARY OF CTUSAB
Credit has to be given to both the Labour Department and the National Advisory Committee on Occupation Safety and Health (NACOSH), for the outstanding work they continue to do in the promotion of a safety and health culture in the workplace.
Following on the proclamation of the Safety and Health at Work Act at the start of the year, ‘Zero in on Safety‘ is in my opinion, an appropriate theme for this year’s Occupational Safety and Health Week.
Inasmuch that the labour movement considers ‘Zero in on Safety‘ as a must, it is for this very reason that trade unions have continually kept safety and health high on the agenda. Through education and training and other sensitization and awareness programmes, the movement has sustained its efforts in outreaching to both employees and employers.
The Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) is adamant that enforcement is necessary, if serious inroads are to be made in engendering a safety and health culture in workplaces across Barbados.
This means that there is a need to ensure compliance with the provisions of the SHaW Act. Accepting that there is room for the intensification of the national effort as it relates to the promotion of Safety and Health education and awareness programmes, there is also need for employers to initiate individual plans of actions, in order to ensure that their enterprises meet the requirements of the Shaw Act. Until this is done, it will continue to be business as usual.
CTUSAB will continue to promote the fact that safe work is decent work, and believes that this can be achieved, provided there is an unswerving commitment by employers and employees to take health and safety at work seriously. There must be a realization that an unsafe work environment, coupled with unsafe work practices, will impact negatively on any business. There can hardly be any complaints made regarding loss of man hours when employees are absent from work because of illness caused by unhealthy workplaces, or reduced productivity, that is attributed to unsafe work environment.
If it is the intention to seriously zero in on safety, then the Labour Department needs to be in a position to satisfy itself and the public, that some basic provisions of the SHaW Act are being met. First and foremost, there must be insistence on the establishment of Health and Safety Committee at each workplace, where there are twenty-five or more employees.
Finally Mr. Chairman, I wish to voice it loudly and clearly this morning, that ‘Zero in on Safety‘ should be taken to mean ‘a call to action‘. Let us move beyond the snail pace syndrome that now seems to beset the actions taken in Barbados.