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  • Several Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) programmes are being rolled out by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS), in anticipation of the passage of the OSH Act.
  • Director of the OSH Department in the Ministry, Robert Chung, said at present the Ministry is working on several projects that will help employers and employees to implement and practise safety standards in workplaces.

Several Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) programmes are being rolled out by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS), in anticipation of the passage of the OSH Act.

Director of the OSH Department in the Ministry, Robert Chung, said at present the Ministry is working on several projects that will help employers and employees to implement and practise safety standards in workplaces.

“We are currently developing a model for implementation in the public sector and we are starting first at the Ministry of Labour, after which it will be rolled out throughout the public sector,” he said.

Mr. Chung pointed out that the model was adopted from Australia and has been “tested and proven to be effective,” adding that it will be tweaked to fit the specifications of Jamaica.

The OSH Director said that the law will allow the Ministry to train and certify persons as being competent in OSH standards.

“Persons can be trained at MLSS or they can come with training background and after looking at their credentials, they would be certified as competent. They will then go and ensure that the programme is being executed in the workplace and they in turn have an obligation to report to the Ministry,” he said.

Mr. Chung was speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’ on February 11, where he also revealed that in April the Ministry will launch its caricature for workplace safety.

Other programmes that have already been rolled out include the Safe Worker and Voluntary Compliance Programmes.

The Safe Worker Programme is one in which representatives from companies can be certified by the MLSS in seven areas of safety competence. These areas include: working environment, working conditions, work procedures, material handling, monitoring and evaluation, OSH promotion and communication, and OSH management system.

Mr. Chung said this is intended to “correct and prevent the amount of accidents in the workplace,” for which reports have increased.

The Voluntary Compliance Programme is an initiative designed to prepare businesses for the introduction of the provisions of the Act.

In addition to safety programmes, Mr. Chung said there will be others to address psychosocial issues, including HIV and AIDS and cancer.

Already, several public and private sector entities have expressed an interest in the programmes and have approached the Ministry for training sessions.

Mr. Chung said that while achieving international standards of safety and health in the workplace is good, it is necessary for Jamaica’s participation in the global market.

“If we are going to be competitive in the world market, then we are going to have to step up those standards. The logistics hub is coming to Jamaica and if we do not have the Act, we are going to be forced to accept any kind of standard that the international community will take here,” he emphasised.

Mr. Chung also said that for those businesses that may face challenges in implementing safety standards, the Ministry will lend its support, as it aims to have compliance from every workplace.

“We will be working with everybody to improve their situation. And we are now training our inspectors to see their role as partners and not as legislators,” he added.

Currently between 1,700 and 2,000 inspections are done annually. However, when the legislation is passed into law, it is expected that the number of inspections will increase to approximately 100,000 per year.