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Training For Joint Safettyand Health Committees
Wednesday, 31 January 2018 09:26

If you are a member of a joint safety and health committee and you wish to improve your skills, the Barbados Workers’ Union has developed a training programme to assist you in your endeavour.

The BWU is hopeful that arising from this training, participants will progress towards TVET-sponsored NVQ and CVQ qualifications in Occupational Safety and Health.

Commencing Monday, March 12, The Barbados Workers’ Union start a series of training programmes at the Frank Walcott Labour College at Mangrove, St. Philip for members of joint safety and heath committees, with one seminar/workshop being held in each quarter of this year. The objective of the seminar/workshops is to strengthen the technical capacities of the joint health and safety committees, whose powers fall under section 103 of the Safety and Health at Work Act, 2005 – 12.

The BWU has sought the assistance of the Ministry of Labour through its Safety and Health Section, as well as the Ministry of Health through its Health Promotion Unit, Vector Control Division, the Nutrition Unit and the Psychiatric Hospital.

The training sessions, while taking a broad examination of the Safety and Health at Work Act, will undertake a more concentrated study on provisions in the Act, such as Risk Assessments, the Role of the Joint Safety and Health Committee, Accident Investigations, Inspections and Audits and Fire Safety. The seminar workshops will also deal with other workplace issues such as Mental Health and Work, Nutrition and Non-Communicable Diseases and Vector Control.

The union is paying special attention to joint safety and health committees, not merely because the SHaW Act mandates that these committees should be established in workplaces in Barbados where there are 25 or more persons employed, but because it is evident that some stakeholders in the workplace are unaware of a key proviso of the legislation demands, i.e. how joint safety and health committees should be made up, and how they should function.

The Safety and Health at Work Act informs us of the following:

Every employer in a workplace shall

(a) consult with his employees or their representatives for the purpose of developing measures to promote safety and health at such workplace; and

(b) make arrangement for the participation of the employees in the improvement and development of such safety and health measures.

The Act further informs that Consultation shall be affected as follows:

  • In workplaces where there are 25 or more persons employed, that consultation should be affected through the meeting of a health and safety committee consisting of representatives appointed by the employer and representatives appointed by the employees; and
  • In workplaces where there are less than 25 persons employed, and it is not practical to have a health and safety committee, consultation should be affected through one or more safety delegates appointed by the employees.

The health and safety committee shall meet no less than once a quarter and its records kept available for inspection.

Copies of all reports relating to the workplace safety and health conditions and the environment must be forwarded to at least one member of the health and safety committee, appointed by the employees.

Where there is a health and safety committee

(a) the committee shall comprise an equal number of employers and employees’ representatives;

(b) the employees’ representatives shall be appointed through their trade union or recognised staff association, where the employees are represented by such a trade union or staff association;

(c) the employees’ representatives shall be granted access to information relating to all workplace hazards and to all reports relating to the workplace environment;

(d) the employees’ representatives may conduct tests and take samples of hazardous materials

(e) the recommendations of the health and safety committee shall, if practicable, be implemented.

(f) It shall be the duty of the Chief Labour Officer to resolve any issues relating to the practicability of any recommendations made.

(g) Any declaration by the Chief Labour Officer in that regard shall be conclusive.

Nowhere in the Act is it stated that the employers have the right to elect or select employees to sit on the joint safety and health committee, or vice versa. And whilst the Act is silent with regard to the chairmanship of the committee, it does not mean that either side has the right to chair the committee or sit in the seat of the secretary for eternity. Those posts should be alternated so as to allow for democracy and harmony to prevail.

 

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