Local businesses told to raise standards in Health, Safety, Security and Environment

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The Guyana-arm of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) has urged local businesses to raise standards in Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) if they want to remain competitive, attract investors, deliver value at the international level, and if they want to win the hearts of the people of this country.

The organization Wednesday morning opened a conference on HSSE.

Zulfikar Ally, President of AmCham Guyana said there could not have been a better time to highlight what needs to be done to prepare the country and more specifically the private sector to be responsible actors in the work environment.

He said that the continued success of organisations is more or less guaranteed where there exists a culture of conscientious decision-making about Health, Safety, Security and the Environment.

“Where values are not in question, and relationships with more vulnerable stakeholders are cherished and carefully preserved, organisations entrench themselves into society as model corporate citizens and not only gain the respect and loyalty of stakeholders, including customers but also increase their goodwill which is value that can be monetized in the future,” he stated.

“Therefore, diligent HSSE management is good for people, the environment and business.”

He said that at the heart of the organisation is people and the protection of workers needs to be at the centre of the mandate on Health, Safety, Security and the Environment.

“…within our control, and what ought to be critical to the HSSE mandate is the protection of the people who give us half of their waking, adult lives.

Zulfikar Ally, President of AmCham Guyana

“We have a responsibility to ensure their safety as they perform the work assigned to them, and for their health, both physiological and mental health,” he stated.

Ally said organization heads cannot trivialize the impact their attitudes we have on an employee’s physical and mental health, saying motivated employees are more creative, productive and committed.

“Our responsibility, therefore does not end with our duties to meet our legal obligations, but it extends to policies which must reflect compassion for the overall health and complete development of our employees in all aspects of their lives- academic, professional and personal,” he stated.

On the environment, he said gone are the days where companies can operate with reckless regard for the environment and its inhabitants, saying that compassion is now being asked of businesses.

“Compassion is the single quality that defines us as humane, and it is now being asked of us as businesses.

“Whether they are birds or fishes, or trees, the right to life is not one with which we alone as human beings are endowed and entitled,” Ally declared.

He said it is not enough to perform grand gestures of show if the impact is minimal.

“There is no doubt that climate change is happening right before our eyes – sea levels are rising, species are vanishing, temperatures are rising and the air is becoming thicker in certain parts of the world.

“Unless our efforts are aimed at not only neutralising the effect of our operations on our surrounding environment but reversing the damage that is already before us, we cannot feel good about what we do,” he stated.

According to Ally a robust environmental management programme must not just complement the mandate of a business but must remain central to it.

“Therefore, the due care and attention given to accounting systems and quality management systems is now required of businesses in HSSE in Guyana, and responsibility for HSSE must reside with the most senior ranks of the organization,” he stated.

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