Some 50 persons have lost their lives while others have been gravely injured in the over 300 workplace accidents recorded since August 2020, Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton has revealed.
He was at the time speaking during the opening ceremony of a training exercise in Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), geared at promoting safe working environments for citizens.
“The country is too small [for all these accidents],” Minister Hamilton expressed.
“For 2020 alone, for your information, 32 persons died in this country, in workplace accidents and we had over 300 accidents…some lost limbs, some are still incapacitated, many couldn’t continue to feed themselves and their family and all of that was happening silently in this country, with no one apparently paying attention,” he contended.
The other deaths were recorded for 2021. “I have already had to issue nearly 50 death announcements since I am a Minister. Fifty is too much,” the Minister posited.
“Many of times, people pay attention to the statistics. For me, it is a person, a father, a son, and in many cases, people who are leaving children because the breadwinner is gone…”
In this regard, he underscored the importance of occupational health and safety practices in working environments.
“We have two choices in this matter, either we continue our merry way and we prepare to go wake houses and play dominoes and cards and to attend funerals or we change…All of us in this room and beyond we have a role to play in this matter and we cannot see this narrowly, it has to be objectively; it has to be expansively and recognise that what you are doing it is for the national good,” he said.
The two-day programme will train members of the Joint Workplace Safety and Health Committee established with ExxonMobil to execute their mandate in the workplace as required by the provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, Chapter 99:10.
It will also equip participants with basic knowledge and skills to enable them to develop and maintain safe systems and safe methods to minimise workplace accidents.
Additionally, for the very first time in Guyana, an OSH officer will be assigned on a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) unit.
Minister Hamilton said the government will continue to make the necessary investments in its people to improve their lives.
“We will continue to do our very best. We will continue to work diligently through the length and breadth of Guyana. We will continue to expend money to train our offices at all levels and we’ve already started that, this is only one of those trainings. All the senior officers, we’re exposing them to international training,” the minister said.
ExxonMobil’s Safety Security Health and Environment Manager, Brad Edlington highlighted the importance of health and safety in the work environment.
“For ExxonMobil, there is nothing more important than the health and safety of our work force, the people that visit us, and the community around us…We embrace this opportunity to be able to spend some time with the leadership in the ministry in order to ensure that we understand the expectations of the OSH act and the best practices that you are able to share with us,” he said.