Safety at work improving, claims minister

| 29/04/2015 | 11 Comments
Cayman News Service

Tara Rivers, Minister of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs (Photo courtesy GovTV)

(CNS): The employment minister boasted about the quality of local health and safety Tuesday in a message to mark World Safety Day. Admitting there was some work to do, Tara Rivers said she was “delighted” that workplace culture was changing in Cayman as “more and more employers are making safety and health a top priority”. But just a few months ago the former complaints commissioner said two and a half years after her report highlighting workplace safety dangers, the necessary legislation to address it had still not reached the parliament.

One of those pieces of legislation is the builders bill, which the planning minister is expected to unveil at a Chamber of Commerce event on Thursday, though it is not clear if the bill will go his legislative colleagues during the next meeting of the Legislative Assembly in May when the government will deliver the budget.

Safety on the job continues to be an issue for many local and overseas construction workers who are not always working in safe environment.

With only 800 people trained in occupational safety by government to date by the current labour department and the former DER, the minister’s confident message seems at odds not just with the reality of workplace injuries but the disregard some in the private sector have for health and safety and the lack of enforcement.

Nevertheless, Rivers said Cayman had “long embraced” the concept of safety at work and that the Department of Labour and Pensions (the replacement agency for the DER which was previously responsible for workplace enforcement) was promoting safety in the workplace and helping to develop a culture of compliance in occupational safety and health.

“The work of the DLP and the benefits of this training can be seen in various aspects of today’s workforce, with many employers embracing a proactive approach to workers’ safety on and around job sites. The use of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is becoming increasingly noticeable, as are other measures of accident prevention, such as Personal Fall Arrest Systems, access and egress, fire prevention and hand/power tool safety,” the minister said but admitted that there is still work to be done to achieve full compliance with all aspects of health and safety.

“Many employers and employees still do not understand that taking a risk, no matter how big or small, in terms of safety and health in the workplace is simply not worth it, and not acceptable,” she said.

But in a report published in 2012 focusing on the construction industry, the complaints commissioner at the time, Nicola Williams, warned that there were significant weaknesses in government’s enforcement regime as a result of inadequate resources. She also highlighted a lack of prosecution when employers were falling short of acceptable safety standards and said labour inspectors must carry out more proactive investigations.

“Inspectors are by and large very committed, but they are inadequately resourced for an important role which, although ultimately protecting the lives of both workers and members of the public, has been reduced to just one of many job functions,” Williams said.

In her message marking the annual World Safety Day the minister pointed out the advantages and benefits for the private sector and employers who invest in occupational health and safety.

“Paying attention to occupational safety and health is about treating people right and reaping the rewards,” Rivers said. “Studies show, for example, that for every $1.00 invested in safety and health, a company can expect a return of $4.00 to $6.00.  I take this opportunity to encourage all employers to invest in their employees and their companies by taking advantage of the OSH Training provided by the DLP.”

Anyone wishing to register can contact the Head of Inspections and OSH Trainer for more information at 945-8960/244-4008 or via email at gene.hydes@gov.ky

OCC Health and Safety Report on Construction Industry, June 2012

Minister Rivers’ World Safety Day Message

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Category: Health, health and safety

Comments (11)

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  1. Soldier Crab says:

    DLP customer service is piss poor and inefficient. Go in with a simple question and have to wait for a call 4 to 5 days later. So I guess whoever is in charge of assisting the general public is the same ones who screw up cases. Maybe if they would stay out of bar rooms with their immoral behaviors something would get done.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Does this woman even read the speeches she makes as they are sonoften way off the mark in relation to the reality of situations. You have unregulated work places that are not insoected with piss poor law enforcement.

  3. Redshank says:

    Seems the DLP is doing a piss poor job on court cases as can be seen from today’s Compass. If i recall, isn’t this at least 3 cases that have been thrown out.

    • Sim G aka Sho G says:

      Amen. But seems like CNS never wants to report it and have the people voice their opinions in regards to how poor that Department really is. So many people being affected because of this joke of a department with no persons who care about resolving matters. Cayman Airways will be the next big case to be thrown out.

  4. Shhhhhh. says:

    I can remember when years ago, a roofer fell off the roof at Mirco Centre, and after that, roofers were to be seen wearing the safety tethers everywhere. Well, I cannot remember when last I saw one anywhere in Grand Cayman. Excuse me, but laws etc are all only as good as the routine enforcement of them. It’s called maintenance! That is what keeps the house standing!

  5. Anonymous says:

    It is clear that the safety at work speech does not include safety from workplace bullying which is very much alive in Cayman.

  6. Fred says:

    If indeed Tara Rivers said she was “delighted” that workplace culture was changing in Cayman as “more and more employers are making safety and health a top priority” – perhaps she would care to state what evidence this statement is based upon?

    • Anonymous says:

      She’s a politician so anything she says must be true 🙂

      Harsh reality is if you applied the USA’s OSHA or the UK’s HASWA standards to most work places (particularly construction sites and Mt Trashmore) they’d have to be shut down.

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