DER staff completes occupation training

Covering basics such as gloves and hardhats, and extending to the complexities of handling heavy machinery and hazardous chemicals, Department of Employment Relations staff, together with a senior Planning Department official, are now qualified to conduct in-depth occupational safety training.

Accompanied by Permanent Secretary Angela Martins, Employment Minister Alden McLaughlin presented certificates to the successful DER trainers, and expressed approval of the direction the department was taking, said a GIS press release.

‘You are now officially certified as trainers for occupational safety and health, and as such, are now capable of helping businesses to identify areas of concern, and to ensure that site managers implement preventative safety measures,’ he said.

Mr. McLaughlin further encouraged construction companies to make a strong effort to have employees attend ensuing courses.

Referring to the expectations of the global community and the need to uphold high standards locally, Minister McLaughlin said, ‘This is a good step in the right direction, and I commend you all for exercising initiative in completing this course. I implore you to ensure that appropriate health and safety standards are set and met, for there are some 800 companies and about 6,000 employees who stand to benefit from this knowledge.’

Mrs. Martins also congratulated the graduates who comprise the first local team to have completed a specialised trainers’ course designed and administered by the United States Department of Labour’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

DER Director Walling Whittaker, who also completed the training, expressed appreciation for the level of commitment demonstrated by his staff.

The course was organised by DER’s Senior Compliance Officer Gene Hydes (who led the class in the final written examination), and Compliance Officer Trisha Powell.

The other graduates were: Assistant Director Robert Whittaker, Compliance Officer Rohan Marshall, Human Resource Officer Jean Solomon, Conciliation Officers Odette Johnson-Mitchell and Locksley Haylock, Survey Officer Debbie Prendergast and Cayman Brac Compliance Officer Sandra Solomon. The Planning Department’s Chief Building Control Officer Emerson Piercy also successfully completed the training.

This new knowledge will supplement the roles of DER staff, whose duties range from workplace inspections and labour dispute mediation, to investigating complaints and holding tribunals, the release said.

Mr. Whittaker noted that with his staff now trained, two construction industry courses are already planned for this year, 30- and 10-hour courses available to foremen and workers, respectively. However he also emphasized that government employees will be trained first.

‘Civil service involvement is critical, for departments such as the Port Authority and Public Works undertake potentially dangerous jobs on a daily basis.’

The DER will be conducting a Workplace Safety and Ergonomics Course in June, for both government and private businesses.