With approximately two weeks left before Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) month, the Ministry of Labour revealed that it will place a key focus on Guyana’s construction and mining sectors in hopes of mitigating the number of workplace accidents and fatalities in those industries. This was revealed by OSH Consultant and defacto Head of the ministry’s OSH Department, Gwyneth King.
King, who spoke with this publication regarding the observances held throughout the month of April, noted that the ministry intends to roll out an awareness campaign in the construction and mining sectors, as well as the agriculture sector to some extent, which will include routine inspections. However, she stated that the ministry needed to place specific focus on the construction and mining sectors, as they account for the majority of workplace accidents and fatalities in Guyana.
She highlighted that in light of Guyana undergoing serious infrastructural development, many buildings are being constructed and some construction workers still take a lackadaisical approach toward personal protective equipment (PPE) and its sufficient use. This she said is a major risk to their lives, adding that the ministry intends to use its campaign to address the issue.
During his budget presentation earlier this year, the Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton disclosed that due to the ministry’s robust OSH campaigns, workplace deaths decreased by 20 percent in 2022. According to Hamilton, 2021 would have seen 32 persons losing their lives at the workplace, but in 2021 that number decreased to 21.
Just last Saturday, Neptrid Hercules, a 59-year-old employee of BOSAI Minerals Group Guyana was buried alive after the CAT D9 DOZER he was operating fell into the mining pit. This led to a four-day long search. He was eventually found yesterday with his body partially decomposed. Following the official announcement of his death, the minister signalled that the company will have to answer “tough questions” regarding its safety practices.
The launch of this year’s OSH month is slated for March 31 on the Ministry’s forecourt, under the theme “Safe and healthy working environments are a fundamental principal and right at work.”