The Ministry of Social Protection in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) yesterday commenced a three-day national consultation on the proposed draft regulation for Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) in the manufacturing sector.
The objective of this consultation is to have the full input of stakeholders within the manufacturing sector, in the drafting of the regulations which are envisioned to boost the OSH Act of 1997.
Attending the consultations at Duke Lodge, Kingston, were Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence and Permanent Secretary, Lorene Baird; ILO’s Senior Specialist, Social Protection and Occupational Safety and Health, Ariel Pino; President of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTU), Norris Witter; General Secretary, Federation of Independent Trade Union of Guyana (FITUG), Samuel Joseph; and Consultant, Consultative Association of Guyanese Industry (CAGI), Samuel Goolsarran.
Permanent Secretary Baird explained that the full participation of stakeholders from the manufacturing industry is pivotal to the Ministry’s preparation of a robust document that will protect workers operating in the manufacturing sector.
“…these regulations have been in the making for years and today’s activity is seeking to bring it closer to realisation. It will provide another level of protection for workers whose lives are often placed at risk in the manufacturing sector. As health and safety professionals, you must be cognisant of these issues as you are aware of the risk associated with working in these environments,” Baird told the participants.
The Government Information Agency (GINA) said Baird highlighted the economic cost of workplace accidents and the impact on families when a provider is injured. With these and other issues in mind, she urged the participants to diligently pursue the document, and at the end provide a paper of high standard that can withstand scrutiny, and can provide workers with the much needed security.
Minister Lawrence explained that, this is a big step to begin the process for the regulation of the manufacturing sector, and while Guyana may not have a thriving manufacturing sector, it is the government’s belief that this sector will expand and will become more vibrant.
“It’s about the people, who are the assets and I think we are moving in the right direction with the right set of people. The next step will be to send it to the Attorney General’s Chambers so that their draft personnel (persons who write an official document) can ensure that the issues outlined which will give representation in keeping with our constitution and that we are not repeating with other pieces of legislation. When it returns it will be sent to Cabinet to get its blessings and then to Parliament so we are hoping that this will be done this year,” Minister Lawrence explained.
Meanwhile, the ILO specialist, Pino spoke of the need to invest in the prevention of work place accidents. Pino said that the presentation of the international regulations will be based on best practices identified in different regions of the world, based on what needs to be done from the Government side, as well as the employers and the workers. This is absolutely necessary, because workers, as well as the employers need to be protected.
“A healthy workforce will increase productivity and contribute to the long -term stability of business. What we want to promote through the ILO instruments, regulations and code of practice is basically to foster a comprehensive approach to occupational safety and health, whether we have policies, whether we have systems in place, programmes, mid-term and long-term vision in terms of occupation safety and health,” the specialist emphasised.