Workers at Barbados Statistical Service (BSS) declared today that an ongoing environmental issue has been slowly poisoning them at their Baobab Tower office for the past seven months.
Some workers have told Barbados TODAY they were developing some conditions they believe are associated with the sick building.
The workers have complained that little or nothing is being done to alleviate the strong odour emanating from the sixth floor.
One worker said she was worried that the health of workers was being threatened and some days she did not feel like attending work.
“That is how I feel as though I am being poisoned slowly. You have a fear that something is going on in your body to the point that you may die,” she said.
Said another: “It seems as if nothing is being done because we are having the same issues. People are getting sick and it seems as if no one cares.”
Staff complained that “a lot of people” have been visiting the location carrying out various tests but they were still in the dark about the findings.
The workers claimed that after a colleague recently collapsed and was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) for treatment, a Ministry of Health and Wellness officer visited the location but they are still awaiting an update.
One employee urged the authorities to let them know honestly what is happening. “You obviously know what is going on and you are keeping us in the dark. It is not fair, you are dealing with people’s lives, you have families, you cannot do that as it is not right,” the worker said.
Efforts to reach officials of the BSS, Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations Colin Jordan and representatives of the National Union of Public Workers were unsuccessful.
Barbados TODAY has learned that a month ago members of the Environmental Health Department visited the office to carry out tests.
“The people from Environmental Health came in and they did certain checks,” a source said. “They came in three times and they promised for four weeks to get back to the staff to tell us what is going on. When you call the number [we] were given at first, they responded positively and say they will [would] hold a half-day session with the staff and it never came to fruition.”
The source spoke of an ominous development, in which she contacted the Environmental Health Department, but got no response, suggesting something was found in the building, but no one wanted to tell the staff what it is.
She is becoming worried as she has developed a skin rash and her voice has become husky when she speaks.
“My skin has gotten dark and I am having sore throat daily and my voice is hoarse sometimes to the point it gives out. I had a lot of rashes not only me but several staff members who had rashes all in our necks, red eyes, sore throat, dry lips, burning on the tongue,” she said.
Another BSS worker showed Barbados TODAY her neck which had a rash and said she too was being affected by the odour from the sixth floor.
“The rash in my neck, the itchy skin recently and now I am getting the sore throat as well. First, I was getting the headache and the nasal tract but now it has come to a point that I cannot even smell. What I am feeling is the metallic taste on my tongue. It is a headache,” the worker said.
Minister of Health Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic said he was not aware of the situation and would have to investigate.
It was in October last year that workers first raised the issue of the foul odour which was coming from the fifth floor at the time. They were eventually relocated to the sixth floor where they have been experiencing the same issues.