Statement by the Minister of Education, Employment & Gender Affairs for World Safety Day
Published 28th April 2015, 9:52am
Today the Cayman Islands join the rest of the world in recognising World Day for Safety and Health at Work, or World Safety Day. This day was first recognised in 2003 by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and is an annual campaign to promote safe, healthy and decent work.
What is safety? Safety is about life and death - and how hazards in the workplace can be reduced. Across the world, every 15 seconds a worker dies from a work related accident or disease. Every 15 seconds, 160 workers have a work related accident. This means that by the end of today, nearly 1 million workers will suffer a workplace accident and by the end of today, around 5,500 workers will lose their life as a result of a workplace accident or disease. These are humbling statistics for all of us who work to earn a living and support our families. We are all at risk and therefore need to keep workplace safety at the forefront of our thoughts and practices.
Safety is not only important in high risk jobs such as construction, excavations, trenching or confined spaces; it is an important consideration in all jobs, from the office worker to the household domestic worker. All workers have a fundamental right to safety and to be provided with work environments that are free from hazards. Employers have a duty by law to ensure the health and safety of their employees while on the job, however workers also have an obligation to ensure that the work they are performing is being done safely and that they are taking the necessary precautions to do so.
This year’s theme for World Safety Day is “Join in building a culture of prevention on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH)”. The Cayman Islands has long embraced this concept through the work of The Department of Labour and Pensions (DLP) and the former Department of Employment Relations. To date, the DLP has trained over 800 persons in various aspects of Health and Safety.
Training sessions have been conducted in the following areas:
- OSH 10 Hour Construction Course
- OSH 30 Hour Construction Course
- OSH 10 Hour General Industry
- Scaffolding Erection
- Trenching and Excavations
- Training for Hotel Workers
- OSH Training for UCCI Programs
I would like to thank the DLP for their work in promoting safety in the workplace and in helping to develop a culture of compliance in occupational safety and health. The work of the DLP and the benefits of this training can be seen in various aspects of today’s workforce, with many employers embracing a proactive approach to workers’ safety on and around job sites. The use of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is becoming increasingly noticeable as are other measures of accident prevention such as Personal Fall Arrest Systems, access and egress, fire prevention and hand/power tool safety.
With this said, there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve full compliance with all aspects of health and safety. Many employers and employees still do not understand that taking a risk, no matter how big or small, in terms of safety and health in the workplace is simply not worth it, and not acceptable.
I am delighted to say however, that overall, workplace cultures are changing here in the Cayman Islands. More and more employers are making safety and health a top priority. They have safety and health programs aimed at preventing on the job injuries and illnesses. They investigate not only accidents, but near misses. They build safety and health considerations into new facilities and job contracts. Paying attention to occupational safety and health is about treating people right and reaping the rewards. Studies show, for example, that for every $1.00 invested in safety and health, a company can expect a return of $4.00 to $6.00. I take this opportunity to encourage all employers to invest in their employees and their companies by taking advantage of the OSH Training provided by the DLP and to contact the Head of Inspections and OSH Trainer for more information at 945-8960/244-4008 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On this World Day of Safety, the Ministry of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs and the Department of Labour and Pensions encourage all employers and employees to take a conscientious and focused look at how you can improve the safety of your workplace, for yourselves and your patrons. Make safety a priority and always be aware that: “Safety is a full time job; don’t make it a part time practice.”
Hon. Tara Rivers, JP, MLA