Offices and schools posing health challenges and nuisances for the people who use them are to be tackled with an ‘urgent’ maintenance programme, a Cabinet Minister said today.
Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Sandra Husbands told Barbados TODAY of Government’s plans at the West Terrace Primary School.
“It is a serious problem and it is a problem. I think that while we call it ‘the sick building syndrome’ now, some of that would have existed for a long time across many administrations because of the tendency of Governments not to pay attention to things like maintenance,” she said, adding that with the advent of technology, many Government buildings were air-conditioned, posing a fresh problem.
“With technology changing buildings became air-conditioned. We put in carpets but then we do not understand the importance of maintenance of the air conditioning and recognizing that the carpet is reaching a stage where it is giving off a lot of allergens and will present problems,” Husbands said, noting that as files stacked up they attracted dust and make office spaces unclean.
So the Government will be implementing a maintenance programme as a matter of urgency, she declared.
“Prime Minister Mottley has said that one of the priorities for her Government is one that we must have an active maintenance programme for all of our Government buildings. Part of that will involve having protocols for cleaning, the appropriate chemicals and non-chemicals to clean the environment,” she said.
The Foreign Minister expressed the view that Government should replace carpeting with tiles in an effort to curb the issues plaguing public buildings.
“One of the things that I am hoping is that we will move from carpeting and switch to tile which will actually keep the environment a whole lot cleaner. We can always put little cups on the chairs to prevent the scrapping noise but we need to definitely move from carpet because it is not very healthy especially in the tropics for us where you get a lot of mold and damp and so on,” Husbands said.
Husbands is also hoping that the establishment of a Government maintenance programme will create an opportunity for small businesses to obtain contracts to combat the issues facing the island’s buildings.
“I am hoping that the move towards maintenance will create the opportunity for small business people to be able to get the contracts to deal with the maintenance of the buildings and as a Government, we will establish the protocols so that they can learn the best methods of keeping the building clean,” Husbands said.
Having clean functioning Government offices will lead to an increase in productivity for the nation as a whole, she said.
“What that will do for Barbados as a whole is to actually reduce sick leave and absenteeism. It will also help to raise productivity not because the worker is present but if you are in an environment that is unclean and your sinuses become clogged and your system becomes affected then it is difficult to produce. Therefore, if you have a cleaner building the productivity of the nation will actually rise and that is what we are aiming for,” she said.
The St James South MP was speaking to Barbados TODAY after making a presentation of tablets to students of her riding’s West Terrace Primary School from the Aron and Christina Trust, joined by fellow philanthropists Ryan and Ursula Pannell.