Officials aim to create culture of work place safety

| 29/06/2012

Inspection (217x300).jpg(CNS): Officials from Cayman’s new labour unit, in conjunction with other agencies, conducted a series of random inspections of building sites on Grand Cayman recently and say they intend to do the same thing on the Sister Islands shortly. Construction sites are regularly inspected, officials said, to ensure that employees and employers are complying with the law and keeping sites safe. Aware of the many risks people face on worksites, under the Labour Law the department can inspect them at any time from ground breaking through to completion. Officials said they want to promote a culture of work environment safety across the islands.

“These types of proactive inspections by the department are simply good business sense and ‘preventative maintenance of human capital’ by contractors and developers,” said Director of Labour and Pensions Mario Ebanks “If we can inspire the construction industry and large contractors and developers to embrace robust safety practices and procedures, and sensibly extend those requirements to their sub-contractors, we will have safer and more productive work places.”

He noted that his unit is reaching out to the Cayman Contractors Association, as well as larger general contractors, to sensitize them to, and assist with, the requirements of the Labour Law and promote best practice.

The safety and security of the work site and the employees are of prime importance to all concerned, officials stated, as negligent work habits can result in injuries, loss of work time, heavy claims on health insurance and in extreme cases fatalities. Inspections cover specific safety issues found in the work environment, such as dangers from fire, electricity, and excavations.

Senior Labour Officer Gene Hydes, an OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) Certified Trainer who conducts many site inspections said construction sites have to meet a safety code in order to continue projects. “Weekly inspections bring cohesiveness between the department and the construction companies,” he explained.
“We attend some of the safety meetings held by the contractors to ensure that every standard is being enforced.”

For all work sites in the Cayman Islands, contractors are required to appoint a Site Safety Officer. The Safety Officer may perform that role full-time or in addition to other duties. The contractor may designate him- or herself as a Site Safety Officer. 

To be a Site or Safety Officer, one has to complete a thirty-hour Occupational Safety and Health course offered by the Department of Labour or endorsed by the Ministry.

A person who has not completed the course may be appointed to the position as long as they have some knowledge about occupational safety and health; and/or is expected to complete the course as soon as a vacancy is available.

Businesses seeking information or training on safety and occupational health standards should speak to Gene Hydes at the Department of Labour & Pensions, located on the 2nd floor of Mid Town Plaza on Elgin Avenue. The department is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday-Friday; telephone: 945-8960, fax: 945-8961, confidential hotline for labour andpension complaints: 945-3073.

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