Government will do all it can to ensure Barbadians have a safe and healthy work place, but employees also have to play their role by being more productive and efficient.
That’s the pledge and hope of Minister of Labour Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, who was speaking today as she congratulated Barbados Light & Power Company for its international certification related to health and safety.
The minister reiterated that the 2005 Safety and Health At Work Act would be proclaimed on January 1, and would be followed by other measures, including the development of a national safety management system programme for enterprises.
She was speaking at BL&P’s Christie’s Conference Room, at The Garrison this morning during a ceremony to recognise that company’s attainment of Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series 18001 certification and its International Organisation of Standardisation 14001 re-certification.
She said she expected to see other companies do like BL&P and improve their work environments, especially within the context of the law.
“Section 104 of the SHaW Act speaks to right to refuse a dangerous/ life-threatening task. This caused some concern among the tripartite partners initially, but in an environment where workplace safety is premium, such as here at BL&P, there should be never be a contention in such a circumstance as there would be clear policies and protocols for staff AND management regarding this,” she noted.
“This is what I expect to see across Barbados in the near future with the proclamation of the act, which requires workplaces to have policies, and requires workplaces with more than 25 employees to have a safety committee.”
But the official also saw a need for more worker participation, pointing to a National Initiative for Service Excellence study, which found that the majority of Barbadians workers were not fully engaged at work.
“A workplace’s focus on safety also induces more engagement of the worker as it signals management’s concern for their well-being. That worker is more likely not just to show up and do the minimum required, but become integrated in the life of the organisation and give 100 per cent,” she stated. “The lack of engagement is a challenge for most workplaces today and indeed a concern for Government as we work towards improved productivity and competitiveness.”
“One measure of improved performance is of course the prevention and reduction of workplace incidents and accidents, which is achieved by the effective management of occupational hazards and risks. To this end, traditional command-and-control regulatory and management approaches have been enhanced by strategies such as behavior-based safety techniques, risk assessments and auditing methods,” she added.
Byer Suckoo also said that the changed nature of the work world and related complexities “demanded new approaches to maintain safe, healthy and productive working conditions”. (SC)