Over 2,000 work-related accidents last year
-occupational safety body
Stabroek News
March 29, 2004

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The National Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) recorded over 2,000 work-related accidents last year, according to Gwen King, Chief Occupational Safety and Health Officer.

King was a member of the NACOSH panel assembled at the Guyana Trades Union Congress boardroom on Friday for a media conference highlighting that body's programme of activities to mark the observance of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Month from April 1 - 30, and OSH Day on April 28.

She was responding to a question during the conference regarding the number of work-related incidents uncovered last year.

The Chief OSH Officer also said in relation to workplace mishaps, that there were four to five fatal accidents last year, which was less than in 2002.

She said investigations had revealed that employers and employees were responsible for such accidents. In some instances work sites had rules and regulations that were not followed by employees and there were also places that did not have regulations and equipment to protect workers from injuries.

She said NACOSH does not look into issues of compensation for families - this was done by the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).

However there have been noticeable improvements, including organisations be-coming more aware of existing rules and regulations while increasing their response to OSH issues.

She noted, too, the importance legislation has played in the enforcement of workplace OSH. While reforms are being looked at in areas such as mining, forestry, noise, chemical safety and the establishment of a joint Safety and Health Commission, the International Labour Organ-isation (ILO) is providing assistance with the drafting of OSH regulations.

Andrew Garnett, Chair-man of NACOSH told the media conference the observance of OSH Day is a national and international event to commemorate workers who lost their lives as a result of accidents on the job.

He said NACOSH would be observing the month under the theme, "Sustaining a Safety and Health Culture at Work."

Garnett said "the activities aim at increasing the level of awareness of workers, employers and socio-economic organisations as to the importance of good workplace safety and health practices and their respective roles and responsibilities in sustaining a safety and health culture at work."

Minister of Labour, Human Services and Social Security, Dr Dale Bisnauth will launch the month's activities with an address to the nation.

In addition, a national meeting on Child Labour co-sponsored by the Ministry of Labour and the ILO will be held at the Hotel Tower on Main Street. It will focus on the hazardous nature of child labour and the development of strategies for its elimination.

Additional major activities for the month include one-day seminars at Watooka House, Linden; and Caricom Rice Mills, Anna Regina, Essequibo on April 8 and 21 respectively. The tripartite constituency has scheduled a meeting on HIV/AIDS for the benefit of its members on April 21 as well. Additionally a poster exhibition will be held at the National Library from April 19-30.

An Annual Awards ceremony to recognise and award companies and workplaces that satisfy benchmarks for safety and health at work for 2003 will be held at Hotel Tower on OSH Day. Awards will also be given to individuals instrumental in developing OSH in Guyana.

Workplaces were required to apply for the awards on application forms which were sent to 140 workplaces. Letters were also sent to workplaces and the ten administrative regions re-questing employers to develop special activities for the day.