Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Blame Gov't, unions for languishing safety law

Published:Friday | May 13, 2016 | 5:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The Jamaica Occupational Health and Safety Professionals Association (JOHSPA) is once again alarmed at yet another reported workplace accident in the construction industry, this time at a hotel construction site in Negril. Fortunately, this time, there has not been any loss of life.

It is imperative that contractors and workers are held accountable for safety at worksites, and while we often hear about investigations by government agencies when workplace accidents take place, we are usually not told about the outcome, and more important, who was held accountable. Local authorities that issue construction permits should also monitor the construction process to ensure that the integrity of buildings being constructed. Are there poorly constructed buildings in Jamaica waiting to collapse with the passage of the slightest earthquake?

The protracted non-passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) constitutes a major indictment on respective Jamaican governments over the past 20 years, but more so on the trade unions for whom it constitutes nothing short of a disgrace. Governments have included high-ranking trade union officers, inclusive of even a president of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions, yet the OSHA languishes while many workers continue to be denied safe working environments.

Accordingly, workers need to start demanding of their elected representatives and the trade unions that represent them better stewardship in respect of their efforts in this regard.

JOHSPA once again calls upon the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to pass the OSHA. This act will contain provisions applicable to the protection of workers and prevention of accidents at construction sites.

Our workers are our greatest national asset. Let us do more to protect them.

HENROY P. SCARLETT

President, JOHSPA