SHTA instrumental in hosting safety and health workshop

POSTED: 05/28/13 12:58 PM

St. Maarten – The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) workshop has attracted managers from across the spectrum of the community including some union leaders. The three day workshop held at the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort and Casino is organized by the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association and will address topics such as, methodologies and risk assessment and fire, safety and emergency planning and procedures.

“One of the aims of the International Labor Organization (ILO) is for managers to identify the risk in their industry and decide which one they want to address first, what control measures would you put in place if you cannot eliminate a risk, and how can you reduce that risk, what control measures you can put in place, and how do you continue to manage that risk,” said one of the presenters Robert Teelucksingh.  He mentioned that managers must be able to manage the risk and if this cannot be done then there is need to re-examine it, review it and then come up with an alternative plan.

He mentioned that because for example in the case of the tourism industry; it involves the entire community and not a singular effort of a hotel or one group. He noted that “If we do not involve all the community groups, it is not going to work,” he said. He explained that the ILO program can be applied to any industry in any country since the problems are similar. All of the managers in the different industries are aware of these problems but “it is not high on their priority list.” It is because of this fact that the ILO is conducting this workshop so as to bring awareness.

One of the reasons that managers do not make Occupational Safety and Health a priority is because “it is all about money” because it will cost more in the liability, in the insurance , loss of staff, loss of people coming to the establishment. He used as an example the beach and indicated that is a hotel property situated on the beach does not have a proper plan in place; it could cause visitors to stay away from that property.

He recognizes that most managers are not trained in risk management and as a result they do not see the need for it. He noted that in the major hotels around the world there is risk management department in place and as a result, all members of staff are required to do some training in the field. “If we can introduce this as part of the management training portfolio, then it can only benefit the organization. He is hoping that at the end of the workshop that those who have attended will get back to their organizations and train their managers as well, he said.

Meanwhile, Occupational Safety and Health was described as “going home from work without any injuries to your health and safety compromised by being at work” said Senior ILO specialist of Employees Activities Anne Knowles.  The focus on occupational safety and health at the workplace is essential for every employee to be aware of and managers should understand that this is something that they could put into a system.

“It is not just ad hoc or bad luck that someone hurt themselves. It is not that they were negligent or should have looked out at what they were doing but it is necessary that things are done in a safe and health way is of critical importance to everyone,” said Knowles.  Occupational safety and health has been on the agenda since their inception in their 90 year history. This is not new, she said what is happening now is that organizations are moving away from what was described as “multitudes of regulations which in the case of noise when the legislation indicated that the decibels level should be not more than a certain level.  Persons who decided to pursue this avenue decided to bring it down a notch and felt that this should be acceptable.

She accepts in the event that the noise level is high, then persons should be provided with proper equipment. If this is done, then it is not the regulation that is important but the attitude of the diminishing the decibel level to the extinction, she says.  If employees are working in a noisy environment, then their hearing must be tested often so that they do not suffer from a diminishing hearing problem.

Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, Cornelius De Weever attended the workshops as well, as he gave an opening speech to the participants. “The initiative taken by SHTA for getting businesses involved with Occupational Safety and Health and the importance of prevention as well as reporting on the job accidents to the Inspectorate, the SZV in order for the labor policy department to report to the International Labor Organization (Ilo) amongst other things must be commended,” De Weever said.

“Convention 187 of the ILO to which the Kingdom is a signatory to states that ‘A national preventative safety and health culture refers to a culture in which the right to a safe and healthy working environment is respected at all levels, where government, employers and workers actively participate in securing a safe and healthy working environment through a system of defined rights, responsibilities and duties, and where the principle of prevention is accorded the highest priority,’” he said.

“This tripartite setting is ideal for all parties to contribute to solving the unreported or under-reported cases of on the job accidents and to propose a one stop reporting which could begin at the St. Maarten Medical Center and ultimately end at ILO. Secondly, use this opportunity to encourage employers and workers representatives to implement an HIV/Aids workplace policy as well. These are the two challenges that I have assigned the stakeholders and I am looking forward to their solutions,” De Weever added.

The workshop will end tomorrow.

 

 

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