Health and Safety

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Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Introduction

‘Osha: The devil’s in the details’ ‘Get protected with Osha’ ‘The Osha Authority’ Occupational Safety and Health Authority (Part 2) ‘Warnings from the workplace’ ‘Companies charged under Osha appear in court’ . If one were to peruse the newspapers over the past year one would observe some of the aforementioned headlines in the local newspapers in Trinidad & Tobago, which indicate that OSH is in the air and it is imperative that companies get on the compliance bandwagon or face the consequences as outlined in the law.

The Occupational and Safety Health legislation is not only relevant to all branches of industry and commerce but it is also affects all aspects of work. In essence, if forms the foundation on which appropriate health and safety systems must be built. The OSH Act as it pertains to Trinidad and Tobago, initially enacted in 2004, was amended and assented to by the President in early 2006. However there appears to be many obstacles to the achievement of good standards as proposed by the Act. Indeed, the pressure of production or performance targets, financial constraints and the complexity of the organization are typical examples of such obstacles. The existence of various obstacles makes it imperative that top personnel be effectively guided in the management and implementation of a H&S policy and programme, in order to ensure OSH compliance and commitment.

1.2 The elements of an effective Health and Safety policy

1.21 Defining a Health and Safety policy

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration in the United States a policy based on the definition provided by the Gage dictionary refers to ‘a plan of action’ or a deliberate course of action which is chosen in order to guide or influence future decisions. The articles goes on to state that both an effective policy statement and one can safely infer an effective policy as a whole must fulfill four main criteria which includes senior management involvement, consistency with workplace objectives, relevancy to the real needs of the workplace and acceptability as of equal importance to the other policies in the organization. This position is also strongly supported by Hughes Phil and Ferrett Ed. The policy is really the foundation for the H&S programme of the company thus it is essential that companies get this building block right so that the roll out of the programme would be close to flawless and efficient.

1.22 Issues a Health and Safety policy statement should cover

In addition to the above mentioned criteria for an effective policy statement, which should be reflected in a company’s health and safety programme, based on the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) framework there are ten (10) key issues which a policy statement should cover. These are as follows: 1.Clearly stated objectives and plans which I would add should be categorized into specific time frames. 2.Senior management commitment to the establishment of a healthy and safe workplace and to the integration of this important area in all workplace activities. 3.Treatment of health and safety legislation as a minimum standard rather than maximum. 4.Clearly stated responsibilities of all personnel in maintaining a safe workplace. The policy should state the arrangements in place to support and implement it. Such items as safety meetings, safe working procedures, occupational hygiene, and safety training should be outlined. 5.Accountability of all levels of management for carrying out H&S responsibilities. 6.The importance of consultation and co-operation between management and employees for effective implementation of policy, 7.Commitment to regular reviews of the policy and to monitoring its effectiveness. 8.Commitment to provide adequate funds and details of how money will be available. For example, when confronted with conflicting priorities or allocation of limited...
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