Workplaces urged to develop effective Occupational Health and Safety management systemsWednesday, May 12, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Director of the Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) Department in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Marlon Mahon, says every organisation should have in place an effective OSH Management System.
The OSH Policy guides the management system, and outlines the key principles and objectives that an organisation has committed to in maintaining a safe and healthy workplace.
Such a policy should be governed by the national laws and the OSH programmes and collective agreements.
Recently, World Day for Safety and Health at Work was observed globally under the theme 'Anticipate, Prepare and Respond to crises: Invest now in Resilient OSH management systems'.
Mahon pointed out that since 2003, the day is observed in April annually, to stress the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally.
“It brings into focus safety and health issues in the workplace that are of global significance, and also to promote and create a culture of safety to address these issues,” he said.
“Occupational safety and health should not be seen as a response to hazards in the workplace or when a crisis happens; it should be a proactive approach to managing safety and health in the workplace.”
He pointed out that the significance of this year's theme is to highlight the importance of OSH management systems in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic in workplaces.
According to Mahon, as the pandemic continues to negatively impact every nation, including Jamaica, it goes without saying that the pandemic has radically transformed every aspect of how “we work to include diverse work arrangements”.
Invariably, these new work arrangements have created increased occupational safety and health risks; therefore, Mahon is encouraging organisations to contact the ministry for assistance in developing their OSH management systems.
“Many organisations may not be aware of what constitutes an OSH management system, which is a technical term, and Jamaican workplaces are not necessarily familiar with it, given the fact that these systems normally permeate developed countries,” he said.
It is within this context that the OSH Department of the ministry has developed several brochures and e-posters to provide critical information to assist organisations in creating a robust OSH management system.
The six elements of the OSH management system roadmap establish pro-activeness, which ensures that organisations have a system in place where tasks, roles and responsibilities are clearly identified and communicated to both workers and employers.
One of the most critical elements is management leadership and employee participation, which is critical for the success of any system in place.
“We recommend that organisations formalise the process of interaction between management and employees through an occupational safety and health policy which outlines the key objectives and principles that the organisation will be committed to, to ensure that there is a safe and healthy workplace,” Mahon said.
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