Swift action must be taken to ensure worker safety

Dear Editor,

I believe that notwithstanding the millions of lives lost in military and civil conflicts for centuries by purported civilized nations, the sanctity of life remains preeminent. It follows therefore that the responsibility of every civilized society is to put in place rules and regulations to ensure that all of its citizens as far as possible are protected and given the opportunity to live a full life.

I read yesterday, with some concern that two young men were electrocuted on the East Bank of Demerara, with others hospitalized.

I don’t know if things have changed, but certainly when I had ministerial responsibilities, it was insisted and we ensured that workers everywhere were equipped with appropriate safety gears. Depending on where they were asked to function – helmets, gloves, boots, overalls, goggles etc. were provided.

I believe, the ILO Conventions subscribed to by our Government sets out very clearly the requirements and obligations of employer and employee. 

I recall two separate incidents, one, where a worker refused to complete an assignment because he was not given the appropriate protective gear; he was threatened by the Supervisor.

I had the Supervisor disciplined.

In another case, the worker claimed that the boots given to him and the helmet were uncomfortable and was seen working wearing neither. I told the Supervisor his duty was to ensure the worker have his protective gear on at all times.

I assume the above will be noted by the TUC and the Minister responsible for Labour. I expect them to take swift action.

It is reasonable to believe that Contractors are obliged to ensure that all of their workers have protective/safety gear.

In those circumstances, the Contractors should be hauled before the Courts to answer for this dereliction of duty.

Unless, we are serious, no one will treat us as a caring, concerned Government.

What with foreign companies and the likes operating in Guyana?

Emerson left us this riddle, which we can no more than ponder – “Life is a succession of lessons, which must be lived to be understood. All is riddle, and the key to a riddle is another riddle.”

Ministers, Members of the Cabinet, procrastination is something the nation can ill afford.

Let us not lose another precious life by failing to take swift action.

Yours faithfully,

Hamilton Green

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