The Cayman Islands Department of Labour and Pensions is aware of the many risks people face in their work spaces.
Therefore, pursuant to the Labour Law (2011 Revision) and its regulations, the department performs regular inspections on commercial and residential building sites.
The safety and security of the work site and the employees are of prime importance to all concerned, as negligent work habits can result in injuries, loss of work time, heavy claims on health insurance and in extreme cases, fatalities. Inspections cover specific safety issues found in the work environment, such as dangers from fire, electricity, and excavations.
Through frequent inspections, the Department of Labour and Pensions would like to continue to promote a culture of work environment safety throughout the Cayman Islands. The department is also reaching out to the contractors association, as well as larger general contractors, in order to sensitise them to, and assist them with, the requirements of the Labour Law and also to promote best practices.
Senior Labour Officer Gene Hydes, a United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration certified trainer who conducts many site inspections, said, “Each of the construction sites on Island has to meet a safety code in order to continue with the project. Weekly inspections bring cohesiveness between the department and the construction companies.”
He continued, “We attend some of the safety meetings held by the contractors to ensure that every standard is being enforced.”
The department recently conducted a random inspection of a number of construction sites in Grand Cayman, and similar inspections are also slated for the Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
Sharon Bello, safety supervisor from Davenport Construction, fully appreciates the Department of Labour and Pensions and its inspections of her work site: “We love to see the Labour Department show up to our site. It shows the dedication from the department in keeping each of our workers safe while on the job.”
She continued, “There is a sense of collaboration that is formed between us and the department. We appreciate showcasing our safety practices, and we look forward to the recommendations that are given from each inspection. We are looking to get better, and with the Department of Labour’s help we have become a team in ensuring workers’ safety.”
For all work sites in the Cayman Islands, contractors are required to appoint a site safety officer. To be considered for this role, a 30-hour occupational safety course must be completed. The course is offered by the Department of Labour or endorsed by the ministry.
A person who has not completed the course may be appointed to the position as long as they have some knowledge about occupational safety and health; and is expected to complete the course as soon as a vacancy is available.
Director of Labour and Pensions Mario Ebanks said: “These types of proactive inspections by the department are simply good business sense and ‘preventative maintenance of human capital’ by contractors and developers. If we can inspire the construction industry and large contractors and developers to embrace robust safety practices and procedures, and sensibly extend those requirements to their sub-contractors, we will have safer and more productive work places.”
Businesses seeking information or training on safety and occupational health standards should contact the Department of Labour and Pensions, located on the second floor of Mid Town Plaza on Elgin Avenue. The department is open to the public from 9am to 4pm, Monday-Friday; telephone: 945-8960, fax: 945-8961, confidential hotline for labour and pension complaints: 945-3073.