Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 26, 2017 (SKNIS): The importance of creating and maintaining a healthy and safe working environment was highlighted by representatives of the Federal Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, the St. Kitts and Nevis Trades and Labour Union (SKNTLU), and the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce (SKNCIC) during a seminar on Wednesday, April 26.


The event was organized as part of St. Kitts and Nevis’ activities commemorating the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, which is celebrated internationally on April 28 each year. The theme for 2017 is “Optimize the Collection and Use of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Data.”


“Working in a healthy and safe environment is a right of every individual,” the newly appointed Acting Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Labour, Ron Dublin-Collins stated, at the opening ceremony. “Work safety includes regular maintenance, regular repair of equipment and a well trained workforce.”


President of the SKNTLU, Joseph O’Flaherty, added that when it comes to occupational safety and health “all stakeholders have a role to play” and regular dialogue was necessary to inform the decision making process when shaping appropriate regulations and policies.


“Dialogue is good and necessary but action is even better,” he said. “We must ensure that we do the right thing to avoid the kinds of injuries and deaths that have occurred in the past and that it is in all our interests to work together to facilitate employee and employer progress and a positive trend for growth and development of our lovely country.”


José Rosa, SKNCIC President, said he was passionate about the issue of occupational safety and health given his background in manufacturing. He welcomed the seminar and noted that the Chamber has stepped up to create safer workplaces.


“We encourage our members to facilitate a safe environment for our employees, however, [a] safety culture cannot only be used at work, the safety culture should be carried with us in any activity that we do in life,” President Rosa said.


He added that he has seen many accidents over the decades and it breaks his heart to see peers lose their ability to provide an income to their families. Mr. Rosa stressed that while data collection of accidents is important, it was even more important to ensure accidents are prevented by surveying the workplace and making the necessary changes in connection with employees.


Acting Permanent Secretary Dublin-Collins said that the Ministry of Labour is committed to partnering with all stakeholders to ensure safe and healthy conditions for the working population.