CTUSAB pushing for trained safety and health committees in the workplace

The Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) is again calling for trained safety and health committees to be established at all workplaces. This comes against the backdrop of the death of a Guyanese construction worker, who fell from a 30- to 40-foot high scaffold on the job last April at Apes Hill, St James.

CTUSAB said the incidents on the job, which were fatal or resulted in serious injuries to workers, beg the question whether these tragedies could have been averted if trained safety and health committees were in place. Between 2019 and mid-2024, the congress noted, a number of such accidents had occurred particularly within the construction, manufacturing and industrial sectors.

“These accidents have underscored the urgent need for action to be taken towards ensuring that trained safety and health committees are in place at workplaces,” CTUSAB said. Noting that the implementation of the training initiative would effectively satisfy the requirements and intentions of Section 103 of the Safety And Health at Work Act (SHaW) 2015-12, the congress said “these committees will ensure that safety protocols and procedures are in place and that there is compliance with safety and health standards and best practices”.

In 2020, the congress presented the Social Partnership with a bold, imaginative, unprecedented and revolutionary proposal to have trained health and safety committees established at every workplace. The National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health and the Barbados Employers’ Confederation helped to develop the proposal, but, so far, the programme has not been implemented, the congress said.

Meanwhile, “with the ever-present threat and exposure of workers to illnesses and injuries due to the sick building syndrome being experienced in the public and private sectors, along with the anticipated construction boom”, CTUSAB stressed the importance of having health and safety committees in workplaces. “The frequency of the loss of life and injuries sustained by workers while on the job is not a matter to be taken lightly, ignored or to which lip service is to be paid,” CTUSAB said.

Workers were urged to demand that employers establish trained health and safety committees in the workplace as it would safeguard their well-being. CTUSAB said the aim of the health and safety committees was to support the Labour Department in effectively monitoring the safety practices and protocols at work. The committees were to also help ensure there was a conducive work environment to minimise accidents, threats, hazards and risks.

The congress concluded by calling on other members of civil society to join in lobbying Government in order to get the training programme implemented without further delay. (KNB/PR)

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