In the workplace, health and safety are paramount to the well-being of the employees and the employer. Many hazards are present in today’s work environments, and it is the employer’s role, as well as the employees’ responsibility, to be safe from these hazards. In Guyana, April is designated Occupational Safety and Health Month. The 28th day of this month is set aside as the World Day for Safety and Health at Work. In Guyana, the Ministry of Social Protection, Department of Labour, is the lead agency in this regard.
Further, inclusive of an annual Awareness Walk, this year, a number of activities have been organised to raise awareness on the benefits of improved occupational safety and health (OSH) mechanisms in the workplace. The EPA executed activities as part of OSH Month celebrations, including a mental health talk and vaccination drive.
Organisations play a crucial role in ensuring workers’ health and safety are protected. In this regard, the Environmental Protection Agency took a proactive approach to organising sessions to help engender a health and safety-literate and conscious population. A mental health talk was conducted by Psychologist from the Ministry of Public Health, Mental Health Unit, Mosa Hutson-Prince. Mrs. Hutson-Prince delivered to a packed staff audience her presentation focusing on creating a balance between work and personal life.
Some of the recommendations given to staff to help achieve this balance included:
Inculcating positive and healthy lifestyle habits both at work and at home; and
Engaging in regular exercise, healthy eating habits, and practising effective communication.
She also posited that even though mental health professionals are highly trained to offer advice and support to individuals, it is up to the individual to take the necessary measures to protect and maintain their mental health.
Additionally, a vaccination drive was also carried out at the Agency’s Ganges Street, Sophia Office. Healthcare providers from the Ministry of Public Health — Campbellville Health Centre — facilitated this initiative. This service was well received by staff from the EPA and the Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission, since a large portion of the staff had accessed such services more than 15 years ago. Staff were able to benefit from vaccines against tetanus, measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), the hepatitis ‘B’ virus and yellow fever. Head of the visiting team, Deputy Chief Nursing Officer Ms. Nalini Das-Sutton, highlighted the importance of vaccination as a means of eradicating many infectious diseases; and, more importantly, as a preventative healthcare measure to protect public health. Nurse Das-Sutton also explained that even if you had received the vaccines you needed as a child, the protection from some vaccines can wear off, and you may also be at risk for other diseases due to your job, lifestyle, travel, or health conditions.
Each year, the International Labour Organization (ILO), main advocate of the observances, selects a theme, which we embrace to signify the cut-and-thrust of safety initiatives within the realm of work. This year, that theme is: “Safety and health and the future of work”, which highlights the ILO centenary anniversary and discussions on the future of work. Particularly, the world day this year looks back on 100 years of work in improving occupational safety and health, and looks to the future for continuing these efforts through major changes such as technology; demographics; and sustainable development, including climate change and changes in work organisation.
You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O ECEA Programme, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, GEORGETOWN, or email us at: [email protected] or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.