Wed | Dec 19, 2018

Letter of the Day | Delay on job-safety law could be deadly

Published:Friday | August 24, 2018 | 12:13 AM


Recently, I observed work taking place at a concrete block-making factory in Kingston. Close observation revealed that the operator of the equipment was not wearing any form of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Despite the high-decibel level (much higher than the 85-decibel level that requires hearing protection), no hearing protection was being worn neither were gloves nor safety shoes. A Jamaican, most likely a low-income earner, was being put at risk to work-related injuries and long-term effects (gradual hearing loss as an example) because his employer is not required by law to meet specific minimum safety stipulations. This example is not unique as workers are frequently observed working unsafely or under unsafe conditions.

The immediate question then is, "What is the status of the long-talked-about and much-delayed Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Bill?" Why is it not passed and enacted? Companies that have developed their own health and safety standards must be commended. However, too many are still being allowed to subject workers to safety risks.

The most significant show of respect that employers can demonstrate to their employees is to create an environment to allow them to return to their families safe and sound. Work-related injuries have the potential to impair quality of life, rob households of the main income earner, deprive children of parents, and put strain on healthcare services.

Many of these unintended consequences can be avoided by proactively thinking about, and acting on, workplace safety.

To the legislators, get on with executing the law and be clear at the outset how it will be enforced. Execution is not knowing what to do. It is actually doing it.