Construction injuries increase

The Government is to crack down on construction sites following a spate of industrial accidents, including two deaths.

All construction companies must comply with the health and safety law or face prosecution.

And the Department of Employment Services will be sending inspectors around work sites to ensure standards are being met.

‘Due to the high incidents of accidents now occurring, non-compliance will not be tolerated,’ said Walling Whittaker, Director of Employment Services.

Since the hurricane, the number of construction workers on Grand Cayman has increased by 460 per cent from 803 to 4,496.

‘Most of these workers are likely untrained and many of the newly established construction companies may be working with unsafe practices,’ said Mr. Whittaker.

‘This situation has created a high risk for accidents to occur and regrettably we have already seen two deaths and several serious injuries in the construction industry.

‘I am very concerned that more deaths and injuries will occur unless a serious effort is made to correct many of these unsafe work practices.

‘Ignorance of the law is no excuse.’

Mr. Whittaker confirmed that although there had been concerns about construction sites before Ivan, the storm had brought the matter to a head with so much work requiring to be done at the same time.

Trained government officers will now be visiting sites, and other high-risk work-places, to carry out safety inspections.

And, in a bid to combat fly-by-night firms, which have sprung up since the hurricane, all construction companies must register with Department of Employment Services.

‘Employers have historically ignored this requirement but we will no longer tolerate this, failure to do so will result in prosecution,’ said Mr. Whittaker.

Every employer who commences operation of a workplace must, within one month, file a written notice with the Director of Labour.

The particulars must include the name of the employer, address and location of business premises, a brief statement of the type of work to be conducted, the total number of workers, and the form of employment – whether it will be on a shift basis etc.

Next month, Employment Services is also staging a two-day health and safety workshop aimed at the construction industry.

In the meantime, Mr. Whittaker is appealing for anyone with concerns about safety in the workplace to come forward.

On top of the two deaths in recent weeks, Mr. Whittaker said there had been many other injuries including fractures, lacerations, chemical splashes, burns, shocks and accidents involving the loss of digits.

Employers can face imprisonment of up to three months or a $2,500 fine for a first offence and imprisonment of up to six months and a $5,000 fine for a second offence.

The Department of Employment Services has set up a website for employers to read up on their responsibilities at www.employmentservices.gov.ky

And anyone requiring further information about the law or who has concerns about work safety practices can ring 945- 3114.