Tue | Oct 16, 2018

What about CRH workers?

Published:Thursday | March 2, 2017 | 12:00 AM


I am disturbed by a statement attributed to Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton, during a town-hall meeting held at the Montego Bay Civic Centre last Thursday.

According to The Sunday Gleaner article 'It will not be closed' (February 26), Tufton reportedly said: "The concentrated levels of the particles are not life-threatening and, therefore, it is inconvenient, it is an irritant, but one could still function in that environment."

He was making reference to the noxious fumes caused by the fibreglass particles emanating from the ventilation system at the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH).

While I can appreciate the challenge in deciding whether to close down the CRH, which is the only major facility providing all the speciality care services in western Jamaica, it should not remain to the detriment of the workers.

It is understandable that the CRH's closure, in order to facilitate the work to address the serious issues plaguing it, could result in patients suffering miserably. We really wouldn't want a situation where the closure exacerbates what currently obtains.

But what about the health and well-being of the CRH workers? Shouldn't their concerns about being expected to carry out their duties in a contaminated work environment be treated with due regard?




They should never be treated as if their concerns about working in a clean, comfortable and safe environment, which they are entitled to, are not substantial. The State has a legal duty of care to all its workers to ensure that they are protected from reasonable foreseeable risks of danger.

I found Tufton's statement to be offensive and reckless, and he should be mindful of his utterances so as not to offer an insensitive disposition.

What currently obtains is, ostensibly, a symptom of the ignominious failure of past political administrations to tackle the issues and provide a comprehensive resolution. Indeed, it is because of our leaders' existential negligence and lamentable arrogance why the CRH is in this precarious situation.

Since the workers' well-being is essential to their output, the authorities should move with alacrity to treat the underlying issues afflicting the CRH with the right medication once and for all.

After all, without healthy, comfortable workers there can be no satisfactory service.