Joint Select Committee Shoots Down Draft Occupational Safety & Health Act

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Members of Parliament’s Joint Select Committee today shot down a section of the draft bill of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 2017 which denies essential service workers the right to refuse ‘unsafe’ work.

President of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions, JCTU, Helene Davis-Whyte raised concerns today in her submission on the bill.

Trade Unionist, Helene Davis- Whyte told Parliament’s Joint Select Committee, that clause 83 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 2017, OSHA was untenable.

She says it sought to deny essential service workers including firefighters and health sector personnel their right to refuse unsafe work.

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Mrs Davis Whyte cited an example in which a firefighter lost 70 percent of the use of both hands after being sent into a blaze without any gloves and receiving major burns.

Opposition Senator Wensworth Skeffery says the clause exempts the government from providing basic resources to protect essential service workers.

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Government Senators Don Wehby and Dr Sapphire Longmore agree that the clause is unacceptable.

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The Bill which seeks to protect the basic rights of employees will see employers, including the state being fined for breaches in occupational health and safety.

The members are calling for a fast-tracking of the regulation to accompany the bill which is being drafted by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.

The OSHA has been in the pipeline for more than two decades.

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