Minister Scott speech at the signing ceremony of the Occupational Safety and Health Agreement between the Private Sector and the Ministry of Social Protection
Ministry of Social Protection, Guyana, October 25, 2016
Today my personal and official enthusiasm for occupational safety and health is being taken to another level as several employers exhibit their willingness to work with the Ministry of Social Protection in the promotion of OSH.
As I stand here, several concepts flash through my mind and I cannot help but conclude that we are in fact, expanding our horizons. Concepts such as collaboration, co–operation, consensus, harmony, accord and so on are some of the concepts which have occupied my mind a few moments ago.
But as I contemplate on what to say I reflected on an old adage that says two heads are better than one. Even though this adage seems to be rooted in simplicity, it seems also to be the foundation of co-operation which is a serious managent principle.
The main focus of today’s activity is the signing of a Partnership Agreement on Occupational Safety and Health which will be followed by an OSH Policy Development Workshop.
The evolution of this strategic initiative commenced with a proposal some months ago, to strategically align our efforts and resources in a collaborative framework as we advance the Health and Safety mandate of this nation. There is no doubt, that the amount of synergy which will be generated from our collective efforts will outweigh the sum of our individual inputs.
While individualism and competiveness have their place in the business world, partnership and joint ventures seem to be the preferred way of conducting business these day. No one person or individual company can claim to have all the right answers to any socio – economic issue, and neither can any singular strategy yield optimum results.
From an academic stand point, I have observed that the current teaching methodologies used in universities and colleges throughout the world increasingly rely on team work and group effort to bring out the best in students. That strategy is premised on the empirical fact that two heads always are better than one.
It is useful to note that the implementation of partnership agreements of the type we are establishing today, is not novel in this ministry. Our records have shown that the successful application of a partnership agreement was used in the Guyana HIV and AIDS Reduction and Prevention Programme (GHARP) a few short years ago and we have every reason to believe that the success we experienced in that programme can be replicated on this occasion.
This agreement is being signed when we are intensifying and redoubling our efforts to maximize the awareness of the importance of Occupational Safety and Health in our beautiful “Republic”.
The level of industrial activity being witnessed in Guyana these days as manifested by Local as well as by Foreign Direct Investment require a heightened approach to Occupational Safety and Health. Government has spent and will continue to spend billions on infrastructural works across the entire landscape. While some projects seem to be moving at a rapid pace, there are others which have not demonstrated the expected progression against given time lines.
There is need for an acceleration in both construction as well as in the manufacturing industries, but equally so, there is a need to pay more emphasis on safety, hence the need for our partnerships.
Many of you will recall that it was not so long ago that the NACOSH was reconstituted i.e. the NATIONAL Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health as part of Government’s determination to widen its focus on Health and Safety.
In concluding, it is imperative that I emphasize that this initative is an example of government’s philosophy of inclusionary governance, not only at the political level, but at the industrial level as well.
It is my sincere hope that the signing of this agreement, is not just a matter of window – dressing and an opportunity to exhibit our excellence in lip service. On the contrary, let us endeavor to display true commitment in thoughts, deeds and resources of that workplace safety can truly be deemed a core value in our lives.
From the contents of the agreement, I am impressed that once it is fully operationalized and respected to the ‘letter’ workplace safety in Guyana would be elevated to the highest possible level within the limits of our technology.
Occupational Safety and Health is indisputably important from moral, Legal and Financial Stand points and none should be ranked more important that the other.
I shall close with a statement or rather an observation by the Director General of the ILO Mr. Guy Ryder. He said
“…good intentions have not always been implemented or sustained. While some may be tempted to cut back on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) especially during an economic downturn, protecting workers is not a luxury to be sacrificed in hard times”.
(A Global Visio of Prevention)
I think that from these remarks you can conclude that a commitment to Health and Safety is not an option. It must become an absolute way of life. Let us not cut back or hold back on our steadfastness and diligence to Workplace Safety.