Jamaica News: Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Shahine Robinson, says passage of the proposed Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) will be a top priority for the Government during the 2018/19 legislative year.
The Bill, which was tabled in Parliament during the 2018/19 fiscal year, aims to secure the safety and health of all employees in the workplace.
Mrs. Robinson said its passage is a key outcome of the Administration’s Medium-Term Socio-Economic Policy Framework, underpinning its strategic focus on creating an environment characterised by inclusive and sustainable economic growth, job creation and prosperity, which, she contended, “will be void if it excludes the promotion of decent work for our labour force”.
She was making her 2018/19 Sectoral Debate presentation in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (June 26), under the theme ‘Bolting the Foundation for Lasting Prosperity through Dignity and Respect’.
Mrs. Robinson said the Bill’s promulgation will require the Ministry and, by extension, Jamaica to institute measures designed to facilitate smooth implementation of the legislation’s provisions.
She pointed out that the Ministry is aware of the requirements of the tripartite stakeholders – Government, employers and employees – and, as such, is taking “proactive steps” in pursuing capacity building; a national sensitisation awareness programme; and continued dialogue through the Labour Advisory Council (LAC).
The Minister explained that under the capacity-building component, it is projected that the OSHA “will require a significant increase in our administrative and technical resources to monitor and enforce (its) requirements”.
This, she emphasised, is “extremely important” as the Act, when promulgated, will yield an increase in the scope for the inspection and audit of approximately 130,000 small, medium and large enterprises.
“Already, we are in consultation with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to provide training for our inspectors. The Ministry will also be embarking on a series of discussions with our training institutions to determine how best we can, on a consistent basis, fulfil the training needs for the human capital required,” the Minister added.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Robinson advised that the Ministry has already commenced the national sensitisation process by engaging public- and private-sector stakeholders islandwide.
She, however, noted the need to intensify the programme and assured that, come September, “we are going to ramp it up” by “going to the nooks and crannies of Jamaica, starting with town hall meetings”.
Mrs. Robinson said the sensitisation programme will embrace other areas of the Ministry, including the Disabilities Act, National Insurance Scheme, industrial relations, and child labour, in terms of “who we are, what we do and how our citizens can access our resources to advance their awareness and development”.
The Minister indicated that the LAC remains vibrant and continues to serve as a platform for building consensus and making labour-related decisions in Jamaica’s interest “in a civil and reciprocated manner”.
Mrs. Robinson said the Ministry will, through the LAC, seek to continue working in collaboration with its partner stakeholders to ensure the seamless preparation and implementation of the OSHA.
“The Bill is on our website, and we welcome the dialogue and support needed to make it a success,” she added.
Mrs. Robinson emphasised that the OSHA will be a “landmark” piece of legislation for Jamaica, pointing out that it will guarantee safe and healthy places of work, enhance productivity, put Jamaica on par with international standards and give the country the competitive edge “(that) certainly… will draw investors to our shores”, adding that “we are going for it”.
The proposed Act mandates employers to have trained personnel in occupational safety and health, and workplace certification.
“I encourage all employers to start the process of training of these personnel (as) this will make the transition much easier for all of us. I (also) beseech all employers to review and, where necessary, retrofit their establishments, in an effort to meet the (certification) requirement of the law,” Mrs. Robinson said.
Source: JIS News