Promoting a safety culture

in your interestAccording to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, a workplace is the physical location where someone works. Such a place can range from a home office to a large office building or factory.

The Safety And Health And Work Act Of Barbados 2005-12 defines a workplace as “any place where persons work or are employed, including a factory, but does not include a private household where persons work or are employed only in domestic service”.

Based on both of these definitions, it is clear schools and other operations where business is conducted would easily fall under the definition of a workplace. It therefore means every occupier or employer of a place of business has a responsibility to the persons who work and traverse the workplace.

This is recognized in the Safety And Health And Work Act Of Barbados 2005-12, where it stresses the responsibility of the occupier and/or employer to:

(a) keep his workplace so that the safety of persons in the workplace is not likely to be endangered;

(b) take such precautions as are reasonable in the circumstances to ensure the safety of every person in the workplace; and

(c) ensure that all employees with special needs shall be given any directions, notices, information and instructions or training that are required to be given to employees under this act, by any method of communication that readily permits the employee to receive it.

Workplaces can be subject to both environmental and industrial hazards, and it is because of this that the promotion of safety at the workplace ought to be a continuous practice. Employers, by law, are held accountable for the safety and welfare of their employees at the workplace, and therefore it imposes a responsibility on them to ensure safe systems of work and safe practices are followed.

For the purpose of compliance, some employers may go as far as putting in place the basic requirements the law requires. Employers or occupiers should be guided by the need to adopt measures that would serve the interests of their organization.

There is also a need for them to go further towards ensuring there are monitoring systems and enforcement mechanisms in place.

In a small society and economy where micro and small businesses are prevalent, it is commonplace to find many individuals working from home. In some cases, these operations are not registered businesses. It therefore raises the question as to whether these operations fall outside the scope of the law.

It would appear that the responsibility lies squarely at the feet of sole proprietors to follow standard safety practices. In today’s world, homeworking has become a norm, and so it is important an education awareness programme is directed at these individuals who, in their quest to be gainfully employed, are not acquainted with the expected safety and health standards.

While the need is recognized for attention to be paid to promoting a safety culture amongst those operating from home, it must be underscored for employers in the traditional workplaces where persons occupy buildings away from home that it is important to practise fire and other emergency evacuation drills.   

(Dennis De Peiza is labour management consultant to Regional Management Services Inc.

Visit the website www.regionalmanagement
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