SAFETY AND HEALTH FAQs
1. How long should I wait before notifying the Labour Department of a workplace accident?
A: In cases of a fatality or a serious accident the Labour Department should be notified as soon as possible. Safety and Health at Work Act (SHAW) Cap 356, Section 101(3)
The Accidents and Occupational Diseases (Notification) Act, Cap. 338 requires that work-related accidents that cause a worker to be away from work for more than 3 days should be reported to the Labour Department, forthwith.
2. Who is responsible for notifying the Labour Department about an accident, and how is that done?
A: The employer is responsible for notifying the Labour Department. In the case of a fatality or serious accident, the Labour Department can be informed via the telephone (535-1523/535-1524). All accidents should be submitted on the accident notification form in a timely manner. (Notice of Accident and Dangerous Ocurrence Form)
3. What happens after the employer notifies the Labour Department about a workplace accident?
A: Under Cap. 338, the Labour Department may conduct an investigation into workplace accidents. Investigations are normally conducted into every amputation, fracture and fatality.
4. If I get hurt on the job am I entitled to compensation?
A: There is no provision for compensation in the Safety and Health at Work Act. However, compensation issues are addressed by the National Insurance Department.
5. Does my workplace need to have a sick bay?
A: A rest room (sick bay) is required if 20 or more persons are employed at any one time. Where less than 20 persons are employed there needs to be a place that can offer privacy for recuperation. SHAW Act, Section 64(1)
6. Who is responsible for providing toilet paper and soap in a workplace?
A: The employer is responsible for providing and maintaining these items. SHAW Act, Section 65
7. Are employers required to provide drinking water?
A: Yes, the employer must provide wholesome drinking water. The employer may provide bottled water or water in containers that can be dispensed in such a way that it will not be contaminated. Water supplied from bathrooms is NOT acceptable. SHAW Act, Section 57
8. Where should the first aid supplies be kept?
A: The first aid supplies should be readily accessed by the employees but should be placed under the charge of a responsible person. SHAW, Section 63(1)
First aid supplies should be kept together and not be stored with chemicals.
9. Are all businesses required to have certified first aiders?
A: Workplaces with 25 or more persons are required to have certified first aiders. The number of persons trained should be sufficient to ensure that a first aider is readily available at all times persons are at work.
Smaller workplaces are encouraged to comply with these provisions and train at least one employee. SHAW Act, Section 63(4).
10. Is every workplace required to have a lunchroom?
A: workplaces with 10 or more employees at any one time in the workplace must have a lunchroom. Lunchrooms must have enough tables and chairs for the employees. SHAW Act, Section 59(1)
11. Does a worker with HIV have to disclose his/her status?
A: No, disclosure of HIV status is voluntary. If information is disclosed it must be kept strictly confidential.
12. Who selects the employee representative(s) on the Safety Committee?
A: The employees select their representatives on the safety committee. Where there is a recognized staff association or trade union representing the employees, that organization MUST be involved in selecting the employee representatives. SHAW Act, Section 103(5b).
13. Does the chairperson of the Safety Committee have to be a management representative?
A: No, but it has been the practice of some workplaces to have the most senior person as the chairperson since it demonstrates management’s commitment to safety and health.
14. How are the posts in the Safety Committee (chairperson, secretary) selected?
A: Members of the committee elect the chairman and secretary at the first committee meeting.
15. How long can a person serve on the Safety Committee?
A: Workplaces can determine the duration of this appointment.
16. How many persons must be on the safety committee?
A: There should be an equal number of employer and employee representatives. It is recommended that there be no more than 12 persons on the safety committee. Workplaces can also consider having sub committees. SHAW Act, Section 103(5a)
17. How often must the safety committee meet?
A: The safety committee should meet no less than once every 3 months. SHAW Act, Section 103(3)
18. What can I do if the renovation activity in my workplace is affecting my health?
A: Report the problem to the employer or to members of the safety committee. In the event that no improvement in the work environment has been made, then the Labour Department can be contacted at 535-1523/1524.
Employers are encouraged to carry out works outside regular working hours and ensure clean-up is done after such works. Temporary closure of the workplace is also another option.
19. What can I do if I think my workplace is unsafe?
A: The employee has the responsibility of informing the employer of unsafe conditions. The employer and the safety committee should investigate the unsafe condition. If necessary, the Labour Department can be asked to assist.
20. Can I be dismissed if I request an inspection of my workplace?
A: No, Section 102 of the Safety and Health at Work Act says that no employee shall be dismissed because he/she requested an inspection.
21. Am I required to provide alternative work if my pregnant employee is unable to conduct her duties?
A: The employer must first conduct a risk assessment to determine the hazards the tasks pose to the health of the pregnant female and her child.
If the risk assessment finds that it is necessary to provide alternative work, every effort should be made to achieve this. SHAW Act, Section 6 subsection 7-10
EMPLOYER / EMPLOYEE DUTIES
22. What are the employer’s responsibilities under the Safety and Health at Work Act?
A: Employers are required to:
• provide and maintain a safe workplace
• provide and maintain a safe plant and safe system of work
• provide safe arrangements for storage, transport and use of articles and substances
• provide adequate information, instruction, training and supervision
• provide a safe working environment and adequate welfare facilities
• provide a workplace that meets prescribed ergonomic standards.
23. What are the employee’s responsibilities under the Safety and Health at Work Act?
A: Employees are required to:
• take reasonable care for the safety of himself and persons who may be affected by anything he does or neglects to do
• cooperate with his employer in an effort to comply with the statutory provisions
• not misuse anything provided to ensure his safety or the safety of others. Where personal protective equipment is provided it must be used.
24. What are the employee’s rights under the Safety and Health at Work Act?
A: Employees have the right to:
• be informed and trained about hazards and the means of control. The training must be presented in a form that is understood by the employee.
• access reports on workplace conditions where specific representation is made
• speak privately with a Safety and Health Officer during an inspection
• file a complaint with the Labour Department.
25. What are the penalties for violating the general provisions in the Safety and Health at Work Act?
A: A fine of $500 and if the offence continues a further fine of $100 for each day the offence continues.
If the contravention causes death or permanent injury, there is a fine of $5 000 or imprisonment for a term of 12 months or to both.
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
26. Do employers have to provide personal protective equipment (PPE)?
A: The employer should provide personal protective equipment that is used only at work. This includes eye, face, hearing, respiratory, head, foot and skin protection appropriate to the work to be performed.
27. How do I know if the personal protective equipment (PPE) is suitable?
A: Personal protective equipment should be considered the last resort. Other measures (engineering control, substitution, administrative control) should be tried first.
Look at the hazards, research control measures, talk to the employees and consult suppliers of the PPE when deciding what is suitable. PPE should fit properly.
28. How do I get my employees to wear the PPE?
A: To ensure protection is always worn, the following are recommended:
• explain why protection is needed and teach them how to use it correctly.
• Ensure the PPE fits the wearer
• Never allow exemptions for those jobs that ‘only take a few minutes’.
29. How can I obtain more information on occupational safety and health?
A: The Occupational Safety and Health Section of the Labour Department can be contacted at 535- 1523/535-1524; firstname.lastname@example.org or 2nd Floor East, Warrens Office Complex, Warrens, St. Michael