Speakers focus on workplace safety issues

The role of security guards in modern businesses, disability management and the air quality in offices were among the topics discussed in a broad ranging health, safety and wellness conference last month. 

The two-day conference, held at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, also featured speakers from Bermuda, Canada and the UK.  

Antoinette Johnson, laboratory manager for the Cayman Islands Department of Environmental Health, spoke about some of the issues affecting modern offices. 

“Indoor air quality has become a major concern for office workers over the last 50 years as we have moved away from smaller buildings with natural ventilation to larger office buildings with mechanical ventilation. According to some experts, there are generally two major concerns in indoor air quality assessments – protecting the health of workers and ensuring their comfort,” Ms Johnson outlined in a summary of her presentation. 

Dennis Everton Brady, president of Regional Safety, Security and Environmental Consultants Ltd, outlined the changing role of security guards in the workplace and highlighted some liability issues. 

He said proper security management needed to be part of a company’s overall strategy. 

He said companies could not treat security as outside contractors that weren’t part of the staff, when they were acting in the name of the organisation. 

Companies need to do due diligence to ensure potential liabilities are addressed in relation to clients, full time staff, public intrusions and operational risks, he told a crowd of around 40 Cayman based managers and human resources professionals at the conference, organised by the Health and Safety Tutor. 

“Who is guarding the guard is an old statement that is relevant to our society today. Security has taken on a new dimension in any organisational function. The role of security personnel has moved beyond the normal duties of flash lights and that of being the night watchman,” he said in a summary of his presentation. 

Holly Bevan, general manager of Canadian company ECM Group, discussed the challenge of managing employee disability in the workplace. She said there was a balancing act between ensuring employees were fit to do their job and respecting the rights and needs of disabled employees. 

“A solid disability management programme helps to protect lives by ensuring that employees are fit to perform the duties of their job and demonstrates that employees are valued by having consistent processes in place to deal with disabilities, to assist employees while they are away from work and to support them during return to work through gradual plans to build on capabilities and reduce the risk of relapse,” she said. 

The presentation looked at case studies of disability management and discussed best practices in implementing disability management plans. 

Edris Ocho, operator of the Health and Safety Tutor business, which organised the conference said it had been well received by all.  

He said: “The Training and Safety Tutor joined in partnership with the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health and the University of the West Indies Open Learning to facilitate this conference for employers and employees to discuss and share best practices associated with occupational health, safety and wellness policies in the workplace. 

“Occupational wellness continues to be one of most challenging issues in the workplace. Injuries and illnesses cannot be separated from having a safe work environment, neither can occupational health and safety regulations be segmented from the strategic objectives of an organisation’s business practices. We believe that a healthy work force is necessary for business continuity and every organisation can benefit greatly when health, safety and wellness are integrated.” 

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A conference in Grand Cayman helped shine a light on the role of security guards in modern corporations. – PHOTO: FILE
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