1,298 workplace inspections completed for 2022 – Minister Hamilton

24 per cent reduction in fatalities

The government remains committed to ensuring the safety and health of workers across the country.

During a press conference on Thursday, Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton provided a detailed report as it pertains to what the ministry has done to enhance the safety and health of workers in Guyana for 2022.

The press conference for the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Department year-end report was hosted at the ministry’s head office on Brickdam.

Labour Minister, Joseph Hamilton during the press conference

Minister Hamilton stated that 1,298 inspections were completed for the public and private sectors.

This figure also represents an 85 per cent achievement of the inspection target which was set for 2022.

To date, there has been a 24 per cent reduction in the number of fatalities when compared with the corresponding period last year.

Fatalities occurred in the mining, construction, forestry, agriculture, and manufacturing sectors.

This year, 184 workplace accidents were investigated including 19 fatalities.

“It is our position that when workers leave their homes to go to work, there is the expectation of their families that they would return home safely at the end of the work period. Although this is not always the situation as can be verified by the number of workplace accidents, both fatal and unfatal that were investigated. While efforts have been ongoing to address this situation it is quite obvious that much more needs to be done,” Minister Hamilton pointed out.

Meanwhile, 21 complaints related to workplace incidents were received and investigated as a result of workplace accidents and unsafe working conditions.

Five persons lost their lives in construction, one for forestry and logging, four for agriculture, one for manufacturing, and one for security. Nineteen persons lost their lives on the worksite.

While there are breaches of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers responded positively in most instances to the recommendations which were made, the minister said.

Minister Hamilton reiterated that workers in Guyana are the responsibility of the Ministry of Labour through its OSH Department.

A section of the press conference

To date, the minister underlined that the plan of OSH was executed well in keeping with the objective of the department.

“The main objective is to improve the working conditions and environment with the emphasis on preventative rather than punitive measures,” he added.

Key aspects of the programme included promoting good workplace safety and health practices which include the joint responsibility system for safety and health at work; the reduction of workplace accidents in general and more specifically the reduction of workplace fatalities.

To this end, he noted that workplaces were inspected in Georgetown and Regions One to Ten where accidents and complaints were investigated.

Collaboration also occurred with tripartite partners and key stakeholders which include the Health Ministry, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).

Additionally, OSHmonth and day were observed in April.

Activities were held in Georgetown, Regions Two and Ten. Over 2,000 workers were reached with safety and health messages during this period. The observance focused on sensitising workers in the mining, construction, agriculture, and forestry sectors to good workplace health and safety practices.

There were five outreaches, five health walks, ten seminars and awareness sessions.

Debate competitions were held at schools in Regions Three and Six.

Fifteen two to five days training programmes were completed for 235 members of 15 joint workplace safety and health committees in the public and private sectors to execute the required functions.

Twenty-two seminars were conducted and 450 workers from Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Nine, and Ten were sensitised to safety and health at work and the need for the prevention of workplace accidents.

Two of the seminars were conducted with the standards and technical services of the ministry of health for healthcare workers in Georgetown, while another was done in collaboration with the training department of the public service ministry.

Six safety-related training programmes were conducted at six workplaces in the oil and gas sector.

One hundred- and eighty-four-persons including workers and management were sensitised to the requirement of the OSH Act.

A system for recording occupational accidents and diseases was developed and is in the process of implementation. This system will provide an accurate statistical analysis of workplace accidents which will guide the development and implementation of reduction strategies in relation to workplace accidents. This project was funded by the ILO to the tune of US$50,000.

Sixteen OSH officers were trained and computer hardware and software were provided.