CHAIRMAN?of the Private Sector Association of Barbados, Ben Arrindell, has called on Government to step up to the plate on the monitoring and enforcement of occupational health and safety measures.
He did so at a Press briefing shortly after he and chief executive officer Anne Reid paid a courtesy call on key International Labour Organisations (ILO) officials Dr Assane Diop and Dr Ana Romero at Solidarity House yesterday.
Arrindell acknowledged that the private sector too could have done more.
“Both the employers and labour have addressed the issue, but they have been pockets, and it has been on a bilateral basis. Government has not been heavily involved and I think that’s a situation that needs to be addressed.
“In terms of both the monitoring and the enforcement, Government has a role to play.
It is okay to have voluntary arrangements, but at the end of the day you have to have legislation, and then you have to have the resources to implement and enforce,” he said.
Arrindell said he had always been surprised at the lack of awareness of the importance of occupational health and safety, and “also the lack of procedures within the workplace.” “In recent years on a number of occasions both in the public and private sector, workers have had to leave buildings maybe even for days because of the condition of the air quality in those buildings,” he said.
Sir Roy Trotman, worker vice-chair of the governing body of the ILO and general secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), said legislation for occupational health and safety in the workplace should be coming very soon.
“In Barbados, regulations . . . have now been prepared. I think they have been sent out to the employers and the trade unions, and if they have not yet been sent out, there should be sent out in a matter of days.
“Those regulations need to be seen and understood by those members of the Social Partnership, so that the real world, the world of work, will understand how they will function and thereinafter the proclamation will take place, and the matter will be good to go,” Sir Roy said.
The ILO?is pumping $450 000 into a one-year project focusing on training shop stewards and workers generally in occupation health and safety across the Caribbean; and, according to Arrindell, it is a step in the right direction.
“Employers will support this type of initiative because they can see the benefit, because if workers are working in an environment that is unhealthy and unsafe, then that affects the health of the workers, it affects their ability to operate efficiently, it affects productivity and it affects profitability,” he said.