Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus said the previous administration had Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA) inspectors “working from home”.
She was responding to a question in Senate on Tuesday from Opposition Senator Taharqa Obika on the actual and sanctioned strength of the inspectors.
Baptiste-Primus reported that the sanctioned strength of inspectors is 48 and as of January 9 the actual strength was 38.
“The health and safety of workers is of highest priority to the Government of TT. In this regard, the Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise Development is committed to ongoing collaboration with the OSH Authority in order to continue to strengthen the OSH Agency to fill all vacant positions and to improve its function in the implementation and enforcement of the OSH Act for the benefit of all workers.”
Obika asked why the OSH Agency was operating under sanction strength.
She replied: “It is indeed rather strange that such a question would emanate from the bench of the Opposition.”
She said when she became labour minister in September 2015 she found a situation at the OSH Authority where the inspectors were operating from home.
“They were not reporting for duty for over two years. There were few positions filled in the OSH Agency. So from 2015 to now, we have come a very long way.”
Baptiste-Primus said the ministry intended to fill the remaining ten vacancies.