Senators Urge Passage of Occupational Safety and Health Act
Government Senator, Lambert Brown, is supporting a call for legislation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which seeks to safeguard the welfare of persons in the workplace. “The Occupational Safety and Health Act is essential in protecting the workers and their families. It is good for employers (as it) will save them from having to face compensation (and) lost time (among) other (factors) that (can) inhibit efficient business,” he contends. Senator Brown was debating a motion proposing the Bill’s tabling in the Houses of Parliament, which was piloted by Opposition Senator, Kavan Gayle, during Friday’s (February 15) sitting of the Senate at Gordon House. The Act covers a broader range of considerations for safeguarding workers’ welfare on the job and defining conditions of employment, than are provided under the existing Factories Act. Additionally, it proposes the establishment of a joint Health and Safety Council to monitor the well-being of workers. Senator Brown noted that a draft Bill, prepared by the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, has been submitted to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, and urged that it be brought to Parliament, “with some rapidity and with some urgency”, for deliberations. In presenting opening arguments on the motion, Senator Gayle, in noting that the existing Factories Act Regulations are “outdated”, having being approved in 1961, contended that the Occupational Safety and Health Act is expected to be more “far reaching” in its jurisdiction. He contended that the Bill should, among other things, cover key issues such as workplace inspections Senator Gayle suggested that the Bill’s passage be supported by an effective sensitization programme, and an established helpline at the Ministry of Labour and Security, to facilitate timely responses to queries. “If Jamaica is to achieve the goal of our National Development Plan, Vision 2030, to become the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business, we must have the Occupational Safety and Health Act in place as quickly as possible,” Senator Gayle said.