SINCE 2006, the State has intensified measures to bolster health and safety at work. It has passed laws, established implementing agencies, and introduced rules and regulations to ensure regular inspections are done. But while the focus has been on safety at work, what about matters closer to home? Does the State do enough to assist homeowners who need to undertake repairs? A recent spate of tragic incidents suggests there is a lot of room for improvement.
No one should have to endure what the family of five-year-old Pawaan Granger is enduring today. On Sunday, Pawaan died after suffering massive cerebral trauma. Falling blocks from a wall at the family’s premises have been blamed.
Pawaan’s death is the latest to happen in the area within the last few months.
On February 22, Roger Lewis was found dead at his Jacob Settlement, Santa Flora, home beneath a pile of rubble from a concrete wall he had been demolishing.
The State cannot be expected to go into the private property of individuals and to protect all who reside there at any given moment. Nor are we suggesting individuals are to blame for serendipitous accidents that might happen to any of us at any moment in the privacy of our homes. At the same time, it is clear the State is in a position to give people the tools they need to enjoy their property in peace.
One tool is regulation. The State should enforce building codes wherever they exist or devise fresh ones. Building codes are necessary not only to ensure structures can withstand natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes. They also play a vital role in safeguarding public health and ensuring structures remain fit for purpose for as long as possible.
At a wider level, Town and Country Planning also has an impact on the nature of residential development. It affects the scope of options open to individual homeowners who may choose to reside at a particular place.
That said, the State should be commended for offering home repair grants to eligible citizens. Such grants are particularly useful for vulnerable families who need it most.
Finally, public education and the bolstering of skilled labour can enhance the quality of work done in homes throughout the country. As the experience with the Housing Development Corporation housing stock has taught us, quality is often the first factor when it comes to ensuring safety. It is little use attempting to raise the level of affordable housing units if we, as a nation, cannot devise systems to ensure consistent health and safety standards.