Workers in the Statistical Department evacuated the building today as a pungent odour emanated from the fifth floor of the Baobab Towers, Warrens St Michael this morning.
The stench was so nauseating that it made two staff members become ill with one of them collapsing, according to Acting Director of Barbados Statistical Services Aubrey Browne.
A Barbados TODAY team ventured into the area which, workers warned, smelled like raw sewage and although someone had attempted to mask the smell by splashing the area with disinfectant, the odour that emerged was quite pungent and nauseating.
The smell appears to be a recurring problem on the fifth floor but today, the workers had had enough, the statistical office’s shop steward for the National Union of Public Workers Kimberley Agard said.
“This morning upon entering the building, within half-an-hour of being in the office we had a colleague who collapsed and some persons had to seek medical attention. So the staff said, ‘well enough is enough,’” she told Barbados TODAY.
Browne noted: “We experienced the [recurrence] of a problem that has been plaguing our staff for a while and this is a periodic scent that, a periodic odour that has been experienced by our staff at specific times during the mornings.
“We detected this foul-smelling odour in the office this morning; it seemed to be excessive to the extent that two staff members became ill and that prompted staff to evacuate the office,” he added.
The Government’s statistics-gatherer had contacted the property manager to come and assess the issue, he said.
“We informed the property manager but she needs to get in contact with her head to follow up and their head and their head was trying to reach the Ministry of Labour,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Browne also said that he was trying to contact the Environmental Protection Department to join the investigation into what was causing the foul smell in only one section of the department.
“I am trying to reach the Environmental Protection Department to get them involved in the investigations as well as the Ministry of Housing. I am trying to make contact with those entities at the moment to do their investigations,” he said.
He suggested that it was not a maintenance problem but an issue peculiar to the fifth floor.
“This building has been maintained so I don’t think maintenance is an issue in that regard. This seems to be a specific issue that is affecting our floor alone. Half of this floor [is being affected]; it is not the entire floor or the entire building. I do not think it is an issue with maintenance it is a specific issue that has been [recurring] for a while now,” he said.
The statistical department’s union representative told Barbados TODAY the smell emerging from the Barbados Statistical Department was overwhelming.
“This morning was the continuation of some issues that we have been having for a while. For the past two years or so we have been plagued with a foul odour which comes every morning and something every afternoon. For the past couple of months, we had this problem daily sometimes twice a day,” she said.
“Then recently after making some complaints to the building managers and we have then been experiencing it guaranteed once a week. Definitely on Monday mornings and even though you do not always get the stench. You have lingering effects a person feels dizzy, runny eyes, red eyes, sore throat, hoarseness that type of stuff,” Agard said.
There was no indication up to news-time on the cause of the stench or how operations at the Government’s data-collection agency would be affected.