OCC flags up legislation in job site report
A 2004 law that set out a number of conditions aimed at improving health and safety in Cayman Islands work places was apparently not put into force, despite being passed by lawmakers.
Complaints Commissioner Nicola Williams cited the Employment Law (2004) in her recently released review on the state of construction worksite safety in the country. Ms Williams stated that sections 60-72 of the Employment Law as passed may have addressed many work place health and safety issues that were flagged up in her review.
“However, despite this law having been passed eight years ago, it has yet to be enacted so that persons affected could benefit from its provisions,” Ms Williams wrote in her review, an own-motion report entitled, ‘Danger: Construction at work’.
“[Office of the Complaints Commissioner] research has uncovered no justifiable explanation for this [delay].”
Part nine of the Employment Law sets out requirements for issues like what is generally expected to maintain health and safety at job sites, worker’s compensation insurance, employee’s responsibilities and how inquests and prosecutions into work site accidents should be handled.
Other areas of the law deal with requirements for issues like a minimum wage, termination of a job for cause and how severance pay should be handled.
A number of these areas are addressed within the current version of the Cayman Islands Labour Law. However, Commissioner Williams pointed out that many changes proposed to health and safety regulations within the Employment Law have never been adopted. “The 2001 version of the Labour Law is practically the same as the 2007 version of that law,” Ms Williams said.
“What is the point of passing a law that sits there for eight years and doesn’t come into force?”
Ms Williams’ recent review of construction job sites noted the International Labour Organisation’s best practice standards with regard to occupational health and safety that were established in 1969.
Several conventions from the labour organisation’s standards do apply in the Cayman Islands, but Commissioner Williams’ review found little knowledge of, or training in those areas within either the former Department of Employment Relations or the current Department of Labour and Pensions.
“[The] convention provides for a system of regular labour and safety inspections of commercial and industrial workplaces and undertakings,” the complaints commissioner’s report reads. These are aimed to provide protection against “all forms of danger in the working environment”.
The Caribbean Community, of which Cayman is an associate member, also has policies on labour practices, including workplace safety that first came into effect in the early 1970s.
Fundamental worker rights set forth in the international best practice standards include the abolition of forced labour, the establishment of a minimum age for employment, equal pay, non-discrimination requirements and protection of the rights to organised labour within the workplace.