TT must have a modern and responsive regulatory framework for workplace safety, said President Paula-Mae Weekes in her messsge on the occasion of World Day for Safety and Health at Work, which is marked today.
The country needs to enforce existing regulations and work towards improving workplace safety and health, especially, she stressed. given the recent influx of both legal and illegal immigrant workers.
The country, in her view, "must make sure that the fundamental human right to a safe and healthy working environment is respected at all levels and in all circumstances.”
The President pointed out that according to the International Labour Organisation, no fewer than 2.78 million workers worldwide die every year from occupational accidents and work-related diseases, while over 374 million experience non-fatal accidents on the job.
Worse yet, she commented, “These incidents often come at great personal and economic cost and result in lifelong psychological trauma and physical debility."
Today, the President noted, commemorates a century of efforts to improve occupational safety. It acknowledges the need to keep pace with the rapidly evolving work environment.
Despite this, there are new risks. Although, said Weekes, new technologies have revolutionised the workplace, they come with new threats to workers’ privacy and security. Demographic trends such as women’s participation in the informal economy and increasing migration have “highlighted the potential for exploitation and lack of occupational safety and health oversight."
But, the President noted, secure and comfortable working conditions increase worker productivity, and ultimately, growth.
At a global level, in pursuit of a safe and healthy future of work, said Weekes, TT joins with the global community “in championing the principles of human dignity and development and the right to a secure and decent work environment.”
At the same time, here in TT, “Our national development is therefore dependent on the care and attention paid by both employer and employee to the requirements outlined in the Occupational Safety and Health Act (2004).”
Employers must therefore ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, she said, the safety, health and welfare at work of all their employees, and workers must exercise safety and care for themselves and others.
In addition, she said dialogue between employer and employee was essential to foster a culture of concern for the wellbeing of all.