A worryingly high number of construction workers are injured in electrical accidents, emphasizing the need for proper risk assessment at proposed building sites, Chief Labour Officer Victor Felix has revealed.
“It is very interesting to note that in many cases the number of persons injured in the construction industry sometimes outnumber those who are tasked with working directly with live power lines . . . . For me it speaks to the ability to recognize hazards,” Felix said in his feature address at a recent seminar on safety around electricity hosted by the Ministry of Labour and Barbados Light & Power (BL&P).
“Assessment of risks should be conducted to ensure that the potential exposure to electricity is eliminated completely or reduced to an acceptable minimum . . . . Employers and surveyors are reminded that it is their responsibility to ensure the safety and health of employees and the public if they at risk from work activities.”
The senior civil servant described a number of incidents where overhead power lines ran above newly constructed buildings, or newfound underground power lines delayed the construction process.
He therefore called on the building companies to conduct the necessary research and seek advice from BL&P before they begin work.
“Persons should carry out an assessment of their property and make early contact with Barbados Light & Power or any utility company before the initiation of construction works,” Felix said.
He implored business leaders to organize training in hazard recognition and operational techniques for their workers, so as to reduce the likelihood of electrical accidents.
This was echoed by Pete Collett of the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association, who described the companies as “our own worst enemies”.
“We have got significant potential to reduce accidents in Barbados if we are all aware of the hazards and the risk,” Collett said.