SEVERAL government ministries and departments are non-compliant with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Local Authorities, Service Commissions and Statutory Authorities joint select committee (JSC) chairman Hugh Russell Ian Roach yesterday made this observation during a public hearing at Tower D of the Port of Spain International Waterfront Centre.
Referring to submissions the committee had received, Roach identified the service commissions, Social Development Ministry, Health Ministry, the Office of the Prime Minister’s Tobago Affairs Division, the Defence Force and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management amongst the entities which are non-compliant. Health Ministry permanent secretary Richard Madray outlined steps being taken by the ministry to become OSH compliant. Responding to a question from Diego Martin Central MP Darryl Smith, OSH Authority executive director Carolyn Sancho said there were 2,497 OSH complaints from October 2016 to March. Of this figure, only 81 complaints came from the public sector.
Sancho said the authority continues to investigate complaints despite 87 of its 152 posts being vacant. With its enforcement at 50 to 60 per cent, Sancho said, “We are working to get it higher.” Funding remains a problem, with OSHA getting $21 million for recurrent expenditure and $2 million for its Public Sector Investment Programme. With all its posts being contract positions, Sancho said it cost $48 million alone to hire people to fill those posts.
Acting Labour Ministry permanent secretary Natalie Willis said the ministry has been doing what it could to provide more money to the OSHA and proposals will be made to this end, in the upcoming budget.