September 24, 2020

Safety on Worksites Comes First


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(L-R) Chief Inspector Gene Hydes from the Department of Labour and Pensions reviews site safety with Sharon Bello, Safety Supervisor of Davenport Construction.

Building sites in the Cayman Islands are regularly inspected to ensure that employees and employers are complying with the law and keeping work sites safe and productive.

The Department of Labour and Pensions is aware of the many risks people face in their workspaces. Therefore, pursuant to the Labour Law (2011 Revision) and its Regulations, the Department performs regular inspections on commercial and residential building sites, which may be examined from ground breaking through to completion.

Many of these inspections are conducted in consultation with other agencies, including the Planning and Environmental Health departments.

The safety and security of the work site and the employees are of prime importance to all concerned, as negligent work habits can result in injuries, loss of work time, heavy claims on health insurance and in extreme cases fatalities. Inspections cover specific safety issues found in the work environment, such as dangers from fire, electricity, and excavations.

Through frequent inspections the Department of Labour and Pensions would like to continue to promote a culture of work environment safety throughout the islands. The Department is also reaching out to the Contractors Association, as well as larger general contractors, in order to sensitize them to, and assist them with, the requirements of the Labour Law and also to promote best practices.

Senior Labour Officer Gene Hydes, an OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) Certified Trainer who conducts many site inspections states, “Each of the construction sites on Island has to meet a safety code in order to continue with the project. Weekly inspections bring cohesiveness between the department and the construction companies.”

He continued, “We attend some of the safety meetings held by the contractors to ensure that every standard is being enforced.”

Recently the Department conducted a random OSH Inspection of a number of construction sites on Grand Cayman, and similar inspections are also slated for the Sister Islands.

Sharon Bello, Safety Supervisor from Davenport Construction, fully appreciates the Department of Labour & Pensions and its inspections of her work site. She explains, “We love to see the Labour Department show up to our site. It shows the dedication from the department in keeping each of our workers safe while on the job.”

She continued, “There is a sense of collaboration that is formed between us and the Department. We appreciate showcasing our safety practices, and we look forward to the recommendations that are given from each inspection. We are looking to get better, and with the Department of Labour’s help we have become a team in ensuring workers’ safety.”

For all work sites in the Cayman Islands, contractors are required to appoint a Site Safety Officer. The Safety Officer may perform that role full-time or in addition to other duties. The contractor may designate him- or herself as a Site Safety Officer.

To be a Site or Safety Officer, one has to complete a thirty-hour Occupational Safety and Health course offered by the Department of Labour or endorsed by the Ministry.

A person who has not completed the course may be appointed to the position as long as they have some knowledge about occupational safety and health; and/or is expected to complete the course as soon as a vacancy is available.

Director of Labour and Pensions Mario Ebanks commented: “These types of proactive inspections by the Department are simply good business sense and ‘preventative maintenance of human capital’ by contractors and developers. If we can inspire the construction industry and large contractors and developers to embrace robust safety practices and procedures, and sensibly extend those requirements to their sub-contractors, we will have safer and more productive work places.”

Businesses seeking information or training on safety and occupational health standards should speak to Mr. Gene Hydes at the Department of Labour & Pensions, located on the 2nd floor of Mid Town Plaza on Elgin Avenue. The department is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday-Friday; telephone: 945-8960, fax: 945-8961, confidential hotline for labour and pension complaints: 945-3073.

Photo by Information Officer Kristi Anderson


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