Cabinet approves work site rules

Regulations requiring construction companies and their employees to police their own work sites for safety hazards have been approved by the Cayman Islands Cabinet.

The regulations, often referred to as the safety policy for the construction industry, cover everything from mandated reporting of job site accidents to what kind of clothes employees can wear at those sites.

The rules require each construction firm to designate one employee as a safety supervisor for the company, and to have a safety officer designated on each specific work site. If a number of smaller jobs are being done in the same general area, only one safety officer would be needed for all the sites.

Employees in both positions would have to take a 30-hour course taught by the Cayman Islands Department of Employment Relations Occupational Safety and Health office. Many construction company employees have received that training within the past year.

The safety officer would be responsible for overall work site safety and would be required to report all serious injuries to the Department of Employment Relations.

Companies are required to provide protective equipment such as goggles, hard hats, dust masks, and ear protection devices. Companies also have to keep records of serious incidents and report those to the DER.

The regulations require construction businesses to provide employees with a written copy of their respective safety policies as well.

Construction company employees have a responsibility to make proper use of the safety equipment, and to pay for lost, damaged or misused protective equipment and tools if the loss was caused by employee negligence.

Workers must wear shirts at all times, and refrain from wearing baggy or loose clothing which could get caught in machinery. Long hair would have to be tied back or worn in a net.

Certain regulations also make work sites maintain a certain level of cleanliness so debris does not interfere with safety or working conditions.

A number of other regulations are included. There are a lengthy set of extremely specific rules for performing construction work at heights, on ladders, and on scaffolding. Those require the use of devices like safety harnesses and handrails.

A slew of regulations regarding the use of various tools, fire protection and certain construction techniques such as trenching, welding and steel work have also been included.

The head inspector for the Occupational Safety and Health office, Rohan Marshall, has spent the last year meeting with contractors and updating them on what the regulations would require. Mr. Marshall said the regulations represent the minimum standards companies should meet in ensuring the safety of their workers and work sites.

A vote of the full Legislative Assembly would not be needed since only the regulations contained within the current Labour Law are being changed.

The Labour Law (2007 Revision) already provides penalties for companies who ignore work site regulations.