Labour Ministry Implements New Occupation Safety Programme

Effective Monday (April 30), the Ministry of Labour and Social Security will be implementing a new occupational safety programme with special focus on the construction industry, which has recorded two job-related deaths since the start of the year.
Acting Director in the Ministry’s Occupational Safety and Health Department, Robert Chung, told JIS News that in addition to consistent inspections and making recommendations on construction sites, “what we will be looking at is to ensure that certain things are in place, and that every construction site in this country will be adhering to the requirements of the Building Operations and Works of Engineering Construction (BOWEC) Regulations.”
Mr. Chung, who spoke to JIS News following a tour of the Iberostar Hotel project in Rose Hall yesterday (April 27), said that focus was being placed on the construction industry, “because of the high rate of deaths that occur within that industry here in Jamaica. As a matter of fact, since the start of this year, we have had five workers killed at work, and two of them have been within the construction industry.”
According to Mr. Chung, the boom in hotel and road projects has seen more persons being employed on construction sites, exposing them to workplace injuries, if proper occupational safety practices were not put in place.
Representatives from the Ministry have been visiting sites across the island, emphasizing the importance of occupational safety.
Labour and Social Security Minister, Derrick Kellier, who was also on the tour, held informal discussions with workers and issued words of encouragement for the excellent standard of work evident at the hotel site.
“The general construction seems to be of a very high standard and the place is looking real good and everyone seems to be excited about what is before us. I think it is a very good product and it will indeed redound to the benefit of the tourism industry of this country,” he stated. Phase one of the project, which is approximately 366 rooms, is slated for opening in May.
In the meantime, the Minister pointed out that occupational safety and health were critical to workers’ welfare and the Ministry was cognizant of its responsibility in these areas. He further commended the safety record at the Iberostar Hotel construction site, adding that he was particularly pleased with the mix of workers in terms of the male to female ratio.
Jamaica, today (April 28) joins the rest of the global community in observing International Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) Day.
The observance is in keeping with the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) efforts to promote safety, health and the protection of employees in the workplace and to motivate governments, employers and workers to take action in this regard.

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