A win at last!
For five years, since the inception of the IGL Health, Safety & Environment (HS&E) Road Safety Award Programme, Vernon Clarke, an IGL driver, had been keeping a close watch on the Platinum Award, planning carefully to take home the coveted prize. But it was as elusive as it was coveted, and some simple mishaps kept preventing him from getting his taste of victory.
Nonetheless, his fervour was unmatched and he made a commitment to win, carefully planning his moves to secure the title. Each year, as the awards ceremony drew closer, the experienced truck driver buckled down, pulled on his two-decade-plus experience, determined to be the Platinum Award winner. His breakthrough finally came at the fifth annual IGL HS&E Road Safety Awards Ceremony recently.
When Dwight Campbell, HS&E manager at IGL, announced Clarke as the winner, noting his background of enduring losses, toiling to win, and his laser-like focus to remaining collision and injury-free, plus participating in the company's driver training sessions, the audience erupted in applause. As Clarke walked briskly to collect his prize - a trophy, cash award, weekend for two, and a 32-inch Smart TV, there was no doubt about his relief and his pride to have a taste of victory at last.
"It's a good feeling because mi work towards it and it pay off, so mi appreciate it and mi give God thanks fi give mi the strength and the endurance," he said with a smile.
"Ever since mi come here, mi a work fi win. I was in the top three about four years ago ,but got involved in a minor incident and I was dropped from that position," recalled the driver who operates out of the Montego Bay depot.
The father of four, who has been driving trucks for more than 20 years ,said he has been employed to IGL for nine years and believes he has found his home away from home.
"I feel comfortable working with the management team and my co-workers. They don't have a problem with me and I don't have any with them, so we good," Clarke shared.
Campbell said he established the IGL HS&E Award Programme in late 2011-2012 to reinforce IGL's commitment to continuous improvement in road safety, vehicle safety, plant safety, and good housekeeping practices. At the ceremony, several drivers and drivers' assistants also secured awards in silver, gold and platinum categories; and administrative staff members were also recognised for good housekeeping and general safety.
"We continue to deliver products and services on a regular basis; travelling in excess of 4.7 million kilometres and working in excess of 850,000 - 900,000 man-hours on an annual basis. We pride ourselves that during these exposure hours and kilometres driven, we are not a part of the national serious collision statistics that have resulted in fatalities on the Jamaican road network," shared Campbell. "We have now recorded 1,225 days without any lost-time incident; we ended 2016 with zero medical cases, seven first-aid cases, a road incident frequency rate of 1.9 and total recordable incident rate of 1.6."
Speaking at the event, Minister of Labour and Social Security Shahine Robinson, the minister with portfolio responsibility for occupational safety and health, lauded IGL for raising the bar. "What is happening here today is a wonderful display of corporate responsibility and maturity, which will redound not only to the benefit of the company, but the country as a whole," she said. "The inculcation of a culture which puts safety first and the adoption of contemporary safety and health standards is critical to the Government's plans for economic prosperity; equally important as aligning gross domestic product (GDP) and other indicators."
The minister made reference to statistics from the International Labour Organisation, noting that for every 15 seconds, a worker dies from a work-related accident or disease. Every day, 6,300 people die as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases - more than 2.3 million deaths per year. Annually, 317 million accidents occur on the job, many of them resulting in extended absences from work; and the economic burden of poor practices is estimated at four per cent of global GDP each year.
"These ILO statistics are a graphic reminder that action has to be taken to stem the accidents, incidents and bouts of ill health that arise from poor and unhealthy working conditions," Robinson said. "So, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the actions by IGL show that they are playing their part to promote safe and healthy environments. This is action which the government endorses because a culture of safety is key in creating decent work for all."
Clarke reflected on his journey as driver."It's hectic and tiresome at times because the work has to be done, but I dedicate myself to my work," he said. As for other drivers on the road, he urged them to be vigilant at all times and to look out for others as they traverse the nation's roads. "Watch the road because you don't have to be at fault to be involved in a crash," he said.