Department of Labour Symposium Focuses on Safety and Health in the Workplace

Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 26, 2016 (SKNIS): Many workers globally face increasing pressure to meet the demands of modern working life and as such, the St. Kitts and Nevis Department of Labour has taken the initiative to help workers cope with the demands of the workplace by hosting a symposium at the Ocean Terrace Inn (OTI) on Tuesday, April 26.

More than 40 employees from a range of agencies including the St. Kitts Nurses Association; St. Kitts and Nevis Fire and Rescue Services; Her Majesty’s Prison; St. Kitts Electricity Company Limited; St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force; Delisle Walwyn; Kajola Kristada; Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force; The Cable; TDC Group; S L Horsfords; National Skills Training Programme; St. Christopher Air and Sea Port Authority and; St. Kitts Teacher’s Union attended the event which forms part of the department’s week of activities in observance of World Day for Safety and Health at Work (Safe Day 2016). The international commemoration slated for Thursday, April 28, observes the theme “Workplace Stress: A Collective Challenge”.

Shernel James, Senior Labour Officer, welcomed the participants and commented briefly on the theme.

“It is a well-timed theme as today work related stress has been recognized as a world-wide challenge for workers, as well as for the employers,” said James. “This is unhealthy for workers’ health and can also cause the employers /industry to face loses. Workers who face problems of workplace stress can become prone to low motivation, unhealthiness, less productivity, lower satisfaction levels and less safety at the workplace.”

Ms. James said that the issue of workplace stress can also disturb the balance of the home and the family, as well as communities.

Jose Rosa, President of the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CIC), said that he has always been passionate about safety and health and relayed his pleasure to participate in the symposium.

“At the workplace, safety and health of the employees need to be at the top of any priorities or goals for the organizations,” said the president. “We as leaders of the organizations need to make sure that we provide the environment, training and tools for the employees to work and to be safe. The St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce has been consistently participating in events that promote safety and health [and] we encourage our members to facilitate a safe environment for their employees.”

He further added that safety precautions should be applied to every activity throughout life as opposed to just in the workplace.

Representing the workers, Joseph O’Flaherty of the St. Kitts and Nevis Trades and Labour Union, said that safety and health are very important aspects in context of the workplace.

“Many of us already know that stress is one of the most challenging disorders that faces us in our work environments today,” said O’Flaherty. “Coming out of a long associated stigma, the experience of stress is slowly gaining the positive attention it deserves. Yet, it is still one of the most difficult work-related conditions experienced by many in the workplace.”

A number of topics were discussed including identifying, understanding and combating stress; stress on the job: the great career killer; financial stress: how stress affects you and what you can do; combating stress through healthy living, as well as mediation and spirituality: a peaceful way to reduce stress.

The symposium was organized by the Ministry of Labour in collaboration with St. Kitts and Nevis Trades and Labour Union, the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board. It was attended by Jennifer Archibald, Permanent Secretary in the Department of Labour, Mrs. Torfrida Rochester, Chief Personnel Officer, Human Resource Management Department, Vernon Connor, Special Advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister and other government officials.

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