Department of Labour Promotes Prevention of Occupational Accidents and Diseases in Observance of Safe Day 2016‏

Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 21, 2016 (SKNIS): This year’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work (Safe Day) slated for Thursday, April 28, is focused on promoting the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally.

In observance of the day, the Department of Labour will host a week of activities under the global theme “Workplace Stress: A Collective Challenge” from Sunday, April 24 to Saturday, April 30. Activities include Sunday Mass at the St. Peters Anglican Church; a rap session at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC); a symposium; a panel discussion on ZIZ; and a stress-free rally at Independence Square.

Shernel James, Senior Labour Officer at the Department of Labour, elaborated on the theme and said that it was timely as it deals with stress.

“We all know that in today’s world of work stress is a major issue,” said Ms. James, while noting that more and more workers are working harder or longer which put them in a position where they have to produce more with less. “They are under pressure to produce and this pressure is built over a time that results in psychological hazards as the International Labour Organization (ILO) terms it. The ILO saw that this year it was fit to bring attention to the issue of stress and how it affects workers, how it affects productivity, and how it affects the world of work.”

An important activity is a symposium which Ms. James explained briefly.

“[For] the symposium, we are targeting workers involved in high stressed jobs,” she said, while adding that every job is stressful. “However, there are some with greater degree of stress for example, our security officers, police officers, our firefighters, prison officers, healthcare workers, social workers, persons in middle management, human resource (HR) managers and persons like technicians. These are very high risk jobs and so therefore, we thought of bringing these core groups together in a setting where we can help them find ways to minimize their stress level as they perform essential services within the Federation.”

Ms. James said that the department realizes that stress is a key topic and said that the decision was made to extend the symposium to target other groups with a similar session later this year.

She made specific mention of the rap session and noted that it is targeted for students in tertiary institutions such as the CFBC and Advanced Vocational Education Centre (AVEC). She noted that when students arrive at the age to seek employment the entire process becomes very stressful and as such the department will use the rap session to help the students find ways to cope with the stress level.

In 2003, the ILO observed the first World Day for Safety and Health at Work and stressed the prevention of illnesses and accidents at work, while capitalizing on traditional strengths of tripartism and social dialogue. Safe Day is celebrated annually on April 28, and focus is placed on the dignity of human life at work through sound occupational safety and health policies and practices. Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) is an integral component of successful and productive enterprises and strategies for sustainable development.

Safe Day has been celebrated in the Federation since 2003 and preparation for the day is usually done by the staff of the Department of Labour in collaboration with social partners including the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce (Employers’ Representative) and the St. Kitts and Nevis Trades and Labour Union (Workers’ Representative). In 2006, the International Social Security Association (ISSA) partnered with ILO in celebrating World Day for Safety and Health at Work. Likewise, here in the Federation, the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board partnered with the department in observing the day.

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