Jamaicans Encouraged to Get Familiar with OSH Bill

Jamaica News, Kingston (JIS): Jamaicans are being encouraged to familiarise themselves with the provisions of the Occupational, Safety and Health (OSH) Bill.

The legislation addresses safety and health in the Jamaican workplace within a framework that balances the competing interests of employers and workers.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Zavia Mayne, made the call during a forum observing World Day for Safety and Health at Work, held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, on April 27.

Mr. Mayne said the OSH Bill, which was tabled in Parliament in February of this year, is a game-changing piece of legislation.

“I believe that going forward, we should not just use this Bill as a compliance tool, but certainly we should use it for the purposes of education,” he said.

Mr. Mayne noted that the forum, which also targeted youth, would equip them with the knowledge required to transition from school to the world of work.

“It therefore means that occupational safety and health has to find its way into the syllabuses of our secondary and our tertiary institutions, and while I am mindful that there are institutions that make occupational safety and health a part of their curriculum, that is not widespread enough,” the State Minister said.

Mr. Mayne informed that occupational injuries have negative impact on the country’s labour market, especially when the injuries occur at a very early stage in a young person’s life.

“This is that we want to reduce or eliminate, so preparing persons for the world of work in respect of occupational safety and health is (very) important,” he said.

Under the Bill, a worker is defined as a person who carries out work in any capacity for another person conducting a business or undertaking, including work; an employee; a contractor or subcontractor; an employee of a contractor or subcontractor; and a person whose service is procured or arranged by a company, which is in the business of supplying workers for other businesses, and who has been assigned to work in the person’s business or undertaking.

The Bill also introduces a new concept of a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU), who is the principal duty bearer in the regulatory framework.

The Bill requires a PCBU to notify the Director of Occupational Safety and Health immediately after becoming aware of the occurrence of a notifiable incident, such as the death of a person, a serious injury or illness of a person, or a dangerous incident.

It also makes provision for the involvement of workers in the decision-making process in relation to their ability to carry out work safely.

The Bill also treats with the issue of discrimination in respect of occupational safety and health outcomes.

World Day for Safety and Health at Work is observed annually. This year’s theme was:  ‘Generation Safe and Healthy’, and represented a joint campaign with World Day Against Child Labour.

The forum aimed to increase public awareness, in order to reduce occurrences of child labour and ill health due to occupational injuries and diseases.