Cabinet has approved a new policy for maintaining health and safety in the workplace, Minister of Labour and Social Partnerships Colin Jordan has announced.

In his speech to launch Occupational Safety and Health Week under the theme A Safe and Healthy Future of Work, Jordan said: “ Cabinet has just approved the Barbados Workplace Wellness Policy.

“We are now in the process of establishing the National Committee for Wellness in the workplace that will drive the incentives across workplaces.

“Safety and Health Committees at workplaces will be integrally involved in executing wellness initiatives. We recognize that we must move beyond the thinking [of] safety and health and embrace wellness as its natural corollary necessary for fulfilled, motivated, happy and productive workers.”

Telling the gathering at Accra Beach Hotel that the labour ministry will be focusing on mental health in the workspace, Jordan said the Occupational Safety and Health Week of activities will target mental health at a session facilitated by the Psychiatric Hospital.

With the increase of migrant workers in the labour force Government has established a protocol for how employers are to treat migrant workers, the Labour Minister added.

“The protocol stipulates the working conditions that must be provided by employers for migrant workers, the rights and responsibilities for those involved in migrant labour matters, migrant workers must be treated with equity and respect.

“To be clear, migrant workers are entitled to the same protections that are afforded to citizens and can avail themselves of the services of the Labour Department if they feel that their rights have been infringed.”

Chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety (NACOSH) Anthony Rocheford highlighted   statistics from the International Labour Organization (ILO) that showed that 2.8 million persons have died due to occupational related injuries and illnesses.

“The ILO report finds that the largest share by far of work-related deaths is associated with occupational diseases. 31 per cent of deaths are related to circulatory diseases, 20 per cent are work-related cancer, 17 per cent of respiratory diseases. Workers now use more technology and 36 per cent are working excessively long hours defined as more than 48 hours per week,” he said.

General Secretary of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations (CTUSAB) Dennis De Peiza in delivering his brief remarks on the theme said a safe and healthy future of work can only be derived if there is a commitment to providing employment and decent work for all which protects the labour rights. 

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