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Minister wants protection for household workers under Factories Act

Wednesday, April 30, 2014    

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LABOUR and Social Security Minister Derrick Kellier has called for more places of work to be covered by the Factories Act.

He says this is especially important for the 58,000 country's household workers, in order to give them the necessary protection against harmful chemicals.

The minister pointed out that currently only 2.3 per cent of workplaces are operating under the Act. He said household workers who are now being represented by the Jamaica Household Union, need to be protected by law.

"During the course of work these workers do come in contact with chemicals that they might not have been trained to use, or given the required apparatus," Minister Kellier said while delivering the keynote address at a World Safety and Health Day Symposium, held Monday at the Bureau of Standards' head office in St Andrew.

"The Government considers the protection of Jamaican workers to be paramount, and recognises that all stakeholders must play their role in the quest to make safety at the workplace a way of life," he added.

The symposium was held under the theme: 'Safety and Health in the use of Chemicals at Work'.

The Factories Act Regulations mandates that certain categories of workers should be provided with protective gear such as overalls, aprons, gloves, face shields, boots, and other suitable protective clothing.

The minister said the prevalence of chemical injuries reported to the ministry has been relatively low, but noted that International Labour Organization data has shown that some 5,500 deaths occur daily across the globe, from work related diseases. Another 160 million non-fatal work related diseases occur annually.

State Minister in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, in her address, acknowledged the contribution of workers for their contribution to nation-building.

"Chemicals are a part of modern life, and will continue to be used and produce in our workplaces; we welcome efforts to promote and create a health and safety culture that will help to reduce the number of work related deaths, and injuries due to the use of chemicals," the state minister said.

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