Government implements safety policy

A 15-page Occupational Safety and Health Policy is now required in the construction industry.

Alden McLaughlin, center

Employment Minister Alden McLaughlin, centre, announced new safety rules for the construction industry on Thursday. Photo: Jewel Levy

The government initiative was announced at a press conference by Employment Minster Alden McLaughlin on Thursday.

The policy issued in conjunction with the Department of Employment Relations and the Cayman Contractors Association establishes minimum acceptable standards in key areas of occupational safety and health in the construction industry.

It helps to correct unsafe work practices and endorses the adoption of safer working habits in the Cayman Islands.

In an effort to ensure full compliance with these standards, it was agreed to phase in the policy over the next two years.

This should allow all concerned to become familiar with the requirement published and to obtain any equipment that they may need in the future.

‘The policy should not in any way detract from business development. On the contrary, it should be viewed a business enabler and productivity driver, because when implemented correctly, and adhered to in daily practice, it can reduce operational costs, improve morale and motivate employees to augment the quality of their working environment,’ said Mr. McLaughlin.

The first section of the safety policy covers specific duties and responsibilities, safety equipment, employer’s responsibilities by law, housekeeping and personal protective equipments.

Section two, to be implemented in 2008, will cover working at heights, scaffolding, fall protection and ladders.

Section three, to be implemented in 2009, will cover fire protection and prevention, hand and power tools, signs, signals and barricades, materials handling, storage use and disposal, floor and wall openings, trenches, excavation and shoring, welding and cutting, steel erection, electrical, cranes, derricks, hoists, elevators, conveyors and vehicles.

In the coming year the government initiative will also look at placing the policy on a firmer legal footing and to establish additional penalties for non-compliance.

However, in the meantime, the department of Employment Relations, which already bears legal responsibility for investigating, monitoring, inspecting and enforcing occupational safety and health issues in the workplace, pursuant to Part V111 of the Cayman Island Labour Law (2001 Revision), will now utilise this policy as the basis for its undertaking with immediate effect.

To help with the policy the Department of Employment Relations will educate contractors through the inspection process and have already introduced a series of training course to further disseminate the important message to contractors.

The first training took place in November and will be repeated in January 2007 with others to follow at two month intervals. Upon completion, participants will receive official recognition and certificates.

Also joining Mr. McLaughlin were Director of Employment Relations Walling Whittaker, Cayman Contractors Chairperson Steve Hawley and Ministry Employment Deputy Chief Officer Vaughn Carter. All agreed when they first approached contractors with the initiative it was well-taken and supported.