For 2021 thus far, Guyana has recorded seven worksite deaths, forcing the Labour Ministry to employ stricter measures of enforcement for private businesses and public entities to ensure that there is complete compliance with occupational health and safety regulations.
Special emphasis will be placed on high rise buildings. The recent death to occur at a worksite was on April 28, 2021, when Lloyd Feroze, a labourer of Sisters’ Village, West Bank Demerara, fell to his death from the fourth floor of a building under construction on Regent Street, Georgetown.
Labour Minister, Joseph Hamilton, during an interview with the News Room on Tuesday, revealed that the construction at the site has been halted as Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) officers are currently conducting investigations to determine whether the contractors are equipped with the requite safety gears to protect employees.
“We’re hoping that the halt can be lifted once they can show us this morning, that they have all the requisite facilities that are necessary to protect the lives of persons on the side, all the necessary safety gears and we will monitor that even after that commitment is given,” the Labour Minister said.
While the building is owned by Bhena Lall, the minister explained that the contractor who hired the now dead labourer took responsibility for his safety.
Added to that, Minister Hamilton disclosed that the proprietor informed OHS officers that safety gears were purchased for workers but they were not put to use.
In light of the foregoing, the Labour Minister outlined that a stricter approach will be taken against businesses that fail to adhere to the regulations. A meeting is expected to be held soon with several businesses and stakeholders for the ministry’s “National Safety Planning Programme” to address issues related to the matter at hand.
Minister Hamilton noted too that more keen attention will be paid to high rise buildings, as more are expected to be built as Guyana expands.
“If we are at six-storeys now and we are having funerals, imagine when we start to go to 10 storeys… we have two choices…it is either we pay attention to safe workplaces, or we decide we will go to funerals and we will all go to wake houses and play dominoes and cards.
“I would prefer that we pay attention to safe work so that we don’t have to bury people because Hamilton don’t want to continue to be the death announcement bureau,” Minister Hamilton said.