By Loshaun Dixon
Basseterre, St. Kitts-Occupation Health and Safety were put into perspective this week as a workshop was organized as part of the activities commemorating the World Day for Safety and Health at Work.
The theme for World Day for Safety and Health at Work in 2017 is “Optimize the Collection and Use of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Data.”
Speaking on the occasion, the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour indicated that working in a healthy and safe environment is a right of each and every individual and said, “Work safety includes regular maintenance, regular repair of equipment and a well trained workforce.”
President of the St. Kitts and Nevis Trades and Labour Union Joseph O’Flaherty said the day gives all an opportunity to come together to share and discuss issues relevant to occupation safety and health.
“Working towards greater safety in the work place is beneficial to both the employer and the employee,” he stated.
He added that the impact of reduced occupational accidents means greater productivity and consequently better profit margins as well as greater income for employees.
Mr. O’Flaherty said people coming here to live and work and ensuring that locals are not exploited should also be a priority.
“We have to ensure that our Caribbean brothers and sisters are not exploited in the name of profit generation and how do we integrate those persons legally so they are protected under the country’s labor laws,” he said.
He said good health and safety should not be a once a year event but an everyday responsibility and added, “To ensure the workers’ health is protected, to ensure dangers to one’s wellbeing is eliminated and to ensure the environment of work both physical and atmosphere of the workplace is on that protects workers and maximum worker productivity. “
The Trades and Labour Union head stated that when it comes to occupational safety and health all hands should be on deck and dialogue is necessary to inform the decision making process.
“We must ensure that we do the right thing to avoid the kinds of injuries and deaths that have occurred in the past and that it is in all our interests to work together to facilitate employee and employer progress and a positive trend for growth and development of our lovely country.”
President of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce Jose Rosa stated that he was happy to talk about a topic that he was passionate about due to his background in manufacturing.
“Since I started my career in manufacturing safety and health have always played a major role for me. I had the opportunity to work with companies where safety and health were not only the priority it was a way of life.”
He said currently at Kajola Kristada where he works, having the necessary safety practices is a culture.
“The safety and health of employees need to be a top priority for any organization. Before we do anything at work the first thing we need to think about is about safety and I feel that on many occasions accidents happens take steps to the work without taking the necessary safety precautions to avoid accidents.”
Mr. Rosa said leaders in the organizations should provide an environment and tools for the employees to work and be safe.
“It is not only the responsibility of the organization to provide the tools but also the responsibility of the employees to make sure we follow the safety rules,” he said.
Rosa added that the chamber has been consistently participating in events that promote safety.
“We encourage our members to facilitate a safe environment for the employees,” he concluded.