A new day for occupational safety and health

Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Zavia Mayne (left); Dianne Ashton-Smith, Red Stripe Head of Corporate Affairs (centre); and Kenute Hare, Director of the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport and Mining share a light moment at the third instalment in a series of knowledge fora hosted by Red Stripe. (Photo contributed)

With the pending legislation of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Bill, it is crucial for businesses to implement OSH policies that are of an international standard and begin enforcing best practices among their employees.

Championing the cause is brewing giant Red Stripe, which recently hosted a knowledge-sharing forum under the theme ‘Occupational Safety and Health: An Economic Driver.’

For his part at the forum, Zavia Mayne, Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security noted several revisions the bill will bring.

“It is a new day for OSH because this act will issue a new paradigm in accordance to the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) standards and will take into consideration more vital groups such as the financial sector, shops and offices, agriculture and the public sector. It also redefines the concept of an ‘employer’ and ‘employee’ to be more inclusive of numerous business of varying kinds,” Mayne explained.

The passage of the bill will help to promote OSH principles; however, employers need to play their part in ensuring they are implemented and enforced.

President of the Jamaica Occupational Safety and Health Professionals Association Janice Green renewed her call for local businesses to achieve and maintain OSH global standards.

“It is important that companies educate themselves on OSH best practices and implement them in their work procedures to create a safer environment for employees. This includes providing resources such as workplace health, safety and wellness policies, health insurance, life insurance and personal accident insurance as well as National Insurance Scheme benefits. With the right framework in place, employees can equip themselves to be safer and more secure in their work environments,” noted Green.

Red Stripe’s OSH model ahead of many Jamaican firms

As part of the Heineken Company, Red Stripe has already implemented a safety management structure that meets and exceeds the standards set to be established by the pending bill.

With safety and health risks in its widespread network, ‘Safety First’ is the company’s number one valued behaviour and guides employees in how they carry out their duties.

Dianne Ashton-Smith, Red Stripe Head of Corporate Affairs (left) greets David Wan, President of the Jamaica Employers Federation at the Red Stripe Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Forum. At the event, Red Stripe shared their experience of implementing occupational safety and health programmes and how they achieved a ‘safety-supportive’ environment through collaboration with employers and employees. (Photo contributed)

Jeffaust William, Safety and Security Manager, said, “We have a Behavioural Based Safety (BBS) programme, which is a process that creates a safety partnership between management and employees.”

“The process requires employees to focus on their daily safety behaviours as well as those of their co-workers. This fosters active participation among staff who now hold safety at a high standard. We also have a Safety Improvement Report Card (SIRC) system which allows employees to record all accidents and identify safe and unsafe behaviours,” William pointed out.

To complement that initiative, the brewing company also provides several resources to help workers develop a healthier lifestyle including a ‘wellness programme’ in the lunchroom, a hearing conservation programme, respiratory protection programme and an ergonomic programme that the company says are imperatives for business success.