There has been a dramatic drop in the number of reported on-site accidents in the construction sector over the past decade, Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo revealed today.
The minister told the launch of the Contractors’ Association two-day site safety certification workshop at the Warrens Office Complex in St Michael that the number of such accidents fell by as much as 70 per cent between 2006 and 2017.
Byer-Suckoo explained that in 2006 there were 104 reported incidents, which accounted for 14 per cent of all workplace accidents, but the total had fallen to 32 last year, representing approximately seven per cent of the total number of reports.
However, she said while the statistics appeared encouraging, they might not paint an accurate picture of the true state of safety within construction sector, as several factors likely accounted for the lower numbers.
“It is worth investigating whether this is due to improvements in safety practices, a reduction of activity in the sector or a lack of reporting,” the minister said, adding that Government had enacted and proclaimed the Safety and Health at Work (SHAW) Act during that period, while the Labour Department had conducted extensive inspection, sensitization and training.
Byer-Suckoo also said recent inspections at some construction sites had revealed an absence of compliance with the SHAW Act in some cases.
“During the construction inspections it was noted that compliance with the requirements of the SHAW Act was mixed. The major concerns observed were inadequate provision of welfare facilities, issues related to improperly erected scaffolding, unsafe access to working platforms, inadequate provision and use of personal protective equipment and inadequate control of dust generated as a result of construction activity,” she said.
“There were also a number of major ongoing projects that were discovered where the Chief Labour Officer had not received the requisite notification of construction work being undertaken. These conditions need to be improved as a matter of urgency.”
The minister explained that a lack of compliance could lead to injuries on the job, which she said were not only costly to businesses and the injured parties, but to the state as well.
“It is easy to see how unsafe work practices can lead to accidents and occupational diseases which in turn will place undue stress on the National Insurance Scheme, as more persons seek sickness and injury benefits,” Byer-Suckoo stressed.