April 2010 marks another observance of Occupational Safety and Health month in Guyana. April 28th has been dedicated Occupational Health and Safety Day by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in its recognition of worldwide efforts in safeguarding industrial safety and health and in so doing reduce accidents at the workplace. This month’s activities will be carried out under the theme “Emerging Risks and New Patterns of Prevention in a Changing World of Work”.
This year’s theme emphasizes to the employers, employees and the Ministry of Labour their roles and responsibilities in creating a safer and healthier workplace.
The Ministry in keeping with this theme has increased efforts to ensure compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act, No. 32 of 1997. Part of its renewed efforts is the intensification of its inspections of workplaces. It is also intended to create greater awareness through sensitization campaigns.
The unfortunate reality is that many workplaces continue to fall short of Occupational Safety and Health Standards required under the law even though the act is now more than a decade old. It is hoped that through our increased efforts and organization that have been put in place we would ensure greater compliance.
Occupational Safety and Health is a very important component of the Ministry of Labour’s portfolio. It is therefore our duty and responsibility to prevent accidents at the work places. Accidents not only have adverse consequences for the workers and their family but also place more demands on the state’s resources and deprive our nation of its most important human resource.
It is said that accidents don’t happen, but are caused, and so most accidents could be avoided if all persons involved do their part; from the manufacturers of machinery and equipment, who must ensure that the machine and equipment do not have manufacturing faults; the distributors who must ensure that the necessary operational guidance is given; the employers who must provide a safe and healthy work environment; the workers who must exercise due care and attention, observe safety rules and wear the requisite personal protective equipment.
I urge all employers, employees to join the Ministry of Labour in highlighting the importance of managing risks in the working environment. Our workers are our most important asset and we should treasure them. If we don’t manage risks in our working environment, it will manage us, something we cannot afford. May I remind all employers, employees that safety “starts in the womb and end at the tomb”
The Ministry of Labour will continue to work with all Stakeholders in our collective efforts to reduce accidents at the workplace.
Our emphasis would be through inspections, education utilizing seminars, however if the need arises we are not averse to prosecution.
We have, and would continue to accelerate the formation of Workplace Safety and Health Committees so as to empower workers to ensure their own safety.
I wish to commend those employers and industries, which, over the years have been doing their part in ensuring a safe place of work.
This month of activities, I trust, would stimulate a rededication by all as we strive to achieve safer working environment.