It is with great pleasure and a deep sense of honour that I have accepted the invitation to bring remarks at this, the 13th Annual National Health Safety and Environment Conference and Exhibition of the American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad & Tobago. This year’s theme is aptly titled "Learn, Empower, and Sustain." Which is a mantra that resonates aptly in the area of health and safety.
This annual event stands as a testament to the commitment of organizations like AMCHAM to their employees’ well-being in the field of safety and health and it serves as a beacon of recognition for those dedicated to upholding of industry standards and abiding by international best practice.
I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to AMCHAM for their tireless efforts in coordinating this prestigious event year after year. Your dedication to promoting safety, health, and environmental excellence is commendable and aligns perfectly with our national vision of creating safer and healthier workplaces for all.
It must be noted that at the 110th International Labour Conference in 2022, attended by a delegation from Trinidad and Tobago, which comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Labour and the Occupational Safety and Health Agency, it was agreed to by ILO Member States to designate access to a safe and healthy working environment as the 5th fundamental principle and right at work. This signals the increasing global importance being placed on occupational safety and health.
The Government of Trinidad and Tobago remains steadfast in its commitment to making safety and health a priority amongst the working population of our twin island Republic. Evidence of this commitment has materialized through the existence and continuous work of bodies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Authority and Agency, otherwise known as “OSHA”. The Agency plays a pivotal role in regulating and enforcing safety and health standards throughout Trinidad and Tobago. The Agency contributes significantly to policy development, legislative reform, the dissemination of vital information, and the publication of updated data related to safety and health, while carrying out enforcement action before the Court.
Over the past year, OSHA has diligently worked on legislative policy revisions and developments. A notable milestone of the Agency in this year was the public stakeholder consultation on the draft policy for the control of substances hazardous to health (“COSHH”), which took place in June. This consultation included two sessions—one at the Radisson Hotel in Trinidad and another at the Magdalena Grand Hotel in Tobago. Additionally, guidelines for the Processing of Blasting Permits were completed and made available to the public through the organization's social media channels.
Notable statistics of OSHA during the fiscal year 2022-2023 include:
- 25 legal prosecutions.
- 15 reported fatal accidents.
- 51 reported critical accidents.
- 1226 reported non-critical accidents.
Additionally, to date, the Agency has recorded:
219 Fatalities Reported
596 Critical accidents Reported
13,172 Non-critical accidents reported
28,489 Inspections conducted
964 Improvement notices issued
618 Prohibition notices issued
Our dedication to maintaining a knowledgeable and well-trained workforce at OSHA in the field of safety and health is unwavering.
In October 2022, OSHA conducted an Accident Investigation Report Writing Workshop to enhance report-writing standards at the Agency. This workshop aimed to improve the quality and accuracy of accident reports.
Furthermore, the OSH Agency facilitated the enrolment of ten Safety and Health Inspectors in the "Explosives and Blasting Engineering for the Quarry Industry" course hosted by the University of Trinidad and Tobago. This course; which has been completed will undoubtedly enhance their expertise and contribute to the safer operation of the quarry industry. We look forward to receiving these graduates in the near future as we bolster our human capacity for a safer citizenry.
Our commitment to safety and health extends beyond our daily operations. We actively participate in various committees and advisory boards, representing a wide range of causes. Some of these committees include the HIV Workplace Advocacy Unit Advisory Board, the Blasting Advisory Committee, the National Steering Committee for the Prevention and Elimination of Child Labour, the Pesticide & Toxic Chemicals Control Board, and the Minerals Advisory Committee.
The Agency believes in emboldening citizens at all levels and engaged in activities which included visiting secondary schools and delivering presentations on safety and health. The Agency also collaborated with the On the Job Training Division of the Ministry of Labour to engage Trainees in informative sessions about safety and health in the workplace. It is felt that by empowering the nation’s youth with information about safety and health it augurs well for sustaining safety awareness and safe practices.
Looking ahead to the fiscal year 2023-2024, the OSH Agency plans to host a public stakeholder consultation on the draft policy for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This event will provide a platform for valuable input and feedback from all stakeholders in our commitment to ensuring the safety and health of our workforce.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is of paramount importance that we; employers and employees alike, collectively commit to creating safe and healthy workplaces across Trinidad and Tobago. Only through this collective commitment can we achieve a significant reduction in workplace accidents and incidents. Safe and healthy workplaces not only improve the well-being of our workforce but also contribute to increased productivity while reducing expenditure on accident management and downtime. The additional revenue generated can be strategically utilized to improve various aspects of organizations where necessary.
The theme for this year's AMCHAM National, Health Safety and Environment Conference and Exhibition; "Learn, Empower, and Sustain," graciously encapsulates aspects that safety and health should be driven by. It emphasizes the importance of continuous learning to stay abreast of industry standards, empowering others to demand and prioritize safety through consistent practices, protective clothing and equipment thereby creating a culture of safety geared toward sustaining life, livelihoods and safe and healthy workplaces for all.
However, achieving these goals requires a collaborative effort between employers and employees. It is at this juncture I implore to you the importance of employees in the business equation. When employees feel valued, supported, and safe, the benefits manifest in the form of increased productivity and employee satisfaction. As we endeavour to create safe and healthy workplaces across Trinidad and Tobago, let us remember the profound impact that this has on our society as a whole.
In closing, I would like to commend all of the nominees for their outstanding achievements. Being recognized for your unwavering commitment to safety and health is a testament to your dedication. I encourage you to continue striving for excellence in health, safety, and the environment within your respective workplaces.
I thank you all for your dedication to the cause of safety, health, and environmental excellence, and I once again congratulate AMCHAM on a successful event.
I thank you.