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Health costs assault

Denis Lowe

The proposed implementation of a Globally Harmonized System of classification and labeling of chemicals in Barbados would help reduce the millions of dollars being spent on health care.

Addressing the opening of a two-day National GHS workshop at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre this morning, Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe suggested that the new system, which would result in the better management of chemicals, should also mean a safer working environment.

Lowe disclosed that Cabinet had decided to estabish a committee which would help to strengthen the coordination of chemicals management in Barbados.

“I therefore encourage the director and his team at the EPD, to get this Chemical Management Advisory Group formalised and working as soon as possible,” suggested the minister.

“It [GHS] is a tool for communicating the hazards of chemicals to users in a clear and consistent manner. This would allow us to make informed decisions regarding how we use chemicals and thereby reduce risks to the environment and to ourselves.”

“For government agencies, the GHS could result in fewer accidents, reduced money spent on health care due to chemical related incidents, improved protection of workers and the public from chemical hazards, improved inter-ministerial and inter-agency coordination and cooperation as well as improved communication on chemical use, both domestically and internationally,” the minister added.

He said the new system could mean a safer working environment in the private sector and safer methods for transporting chemicals, improve efficiency and cut costs of compliance and hazard communication regulations.

“Costs may also be reduced as a result of fewer accidents and fewer illnesses resulting from exposure. The GHS could also improve a company’s corporate image and social responsibility to its corporate citizens,” Lowe pointed out.

As far as the worker and general public were concerned, the environment minister said he believed the GHS could improve safety through consistent and simplified communications on chemical hazards and practices for safe handling and use.

It could also, he said, create greater awareness of hazards in the workplace and at home. (EJ)


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