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Safety committee gets update from Ministry of Labour

Published:Tuesday | May 4, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Members of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Committee of the Shipping Association of Jamaica (SAJ) were updated last week on changes and the status of the proposed OSH Bill by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.

The group, which has been mandated to update the SAJ's safety handbook, received the update from Andrew Dale, assistant director for the OSH department at the ministry.

According to Dale, the OSH Bill 2004 consists of 55 sections, arranged in eight parts along with three schedules. The bill, he said, features joint responsibility system; duties of owners, employers, supervisors and workers; rights of workers, advisory council; enforcement and penalties. The bill is currently before the Chief Parliamentary Council.

Dale noted that under the proposed bill, a joint safety and health committee (JSHC) is required for all workplaces where 20 or more workers are employed; construction is expected to last for more than three months; less than 20 persons are employed but where critical substances are handled; the OSH Department deems it to be necessary.

He pointed out that the functions of the JSHC are to:

identify any dangerous and hazardous situation

carry out inspections of the workplace at such time as may be prescribed

make recommendations regarding the establishment, maintenance and monitoring of OSH programmes, measures and procedures

obtain information from the employer relating to workers' health and safety.

Dale stressed that training of employees is very important to ensure that all the requirement under the new bill are met.

Duties of Employers:

Provide a safe and healthy workplace and such equipment or device necessary for the protection of workers.

Put in place any procedure required for safety, good health or protection of workers.

Establish such occupational health service for workers as may be prescribed.

Keep all prescribed records.

Assist and cooperate with the joint committee or safety representative in carrying out their functions under the act.

Provide training in health and safety procedures for workers.

Ensure that every supervisor is certified as a competent person.

Dale pointed out that "supervisors are now culpable under the new bill".

Duties of supervisors:

Work in the manner and with the protective devices, measures and procedures stipulated by the act and regulations.

Use and wear the equipment, protective devices or clothing required by the employer to be used or worn.

Take every reasonable precaution for the protection of the worker.

Where prescribed, provide workers with written instructions as to the measures and procedures to be taken for their protection.

Advise workers of the existence of any potential or actual danger to their health and safety of which the supervisor is aware.

Duties of workers:

work in accordance with the act and any regulations made under the act.

use or wear any equipment, protective devices and clothing required by the employer.

report to the employer or supervisor any known defective equipment or PPE, workplace hazard or violation of the act.

To not use or operate any equipment or work in any way that may endanger himself or another worker.

To not engage in any prank, contest, feat of strength, unnecessary running or rough and boisterous conduct.

Take care of the PPE provided by the employer.

The OSH committee of the SAJ was formed in the 1980s and was involved in the preparation and publication of the association's safety manual, which is considered an industry standard. The manual was last updated in 1990. The committee was revamped in 2004 with the view to update the manual to include the requirements of a modern port facility.

The committee comprises industry representatives from stevedoring companies, terminal operators and the stevedoring staff. The new manual is expected to be complete by year end.