CAY HILL — A cross section of the business community was provided with information on the importance of occupational health, safety and environment at a seminar on the subject at Belair Community Centre on Thursday. The event was a collaborative effort of the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA), the Health and Labour Ministryand GB Energy Texaco.

St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) Executive Director Karen Hanna said it is an employer’s responsibility to provide a healthy and safe workplace for all workers and others who might be at the workplace. She said the cost to a business of an employee being injured at work go well beyond the direct cost of compensation and increased insurance premiums.

Indirect cost, she said, include managerial time to investigate; cost of training someone else for the job; lower motivation and morale of other employees; increased absenteeism; higher turnover; poor business reputation and loss of contracts.
“The focus on occupational safety and health at the workplace is essential for every employee to be aware of, and managers should understand that this is something that they could put into the system. Most countries in the Caribbean are currently reviewing (or have just completed reviewing) their legislation on Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Management Systems,” she noted.

Hanna said the review enables the countries to apply updates in accordance with recent ILO Conventions, which focus on a preventative approach to managing health and safety.
“One of the key areas where employers need to focus on is identifying hazards at the workplace, being able to assess risk and then managing risk.”

Convention 187 of the ILO, to which the Kingdom is a signatory to, states: “A national preventative safety and health culture refers to a culture in which the right to a safe and healthy working environment is respected at all levels, where government, employers and workers actively participate in securing a safe and healthy working environment through a system of defi ned rights, responsibilities and duties and where the principle is accorded the highest priority”

The SHTA, Hanna said, is dedicated to bringing quality to all aspects of life on St. Maarten by promoting sustainable economic development for its members in cooperation with social partners and creating a fair marketplace.

Chamber Vice President Hubert Pantophlet said the theme and content of the workshop are very important to the set standards of developed and developing countries in the world and in particular in our region.

Also speaking at the seminar were Policy Advisor of the Labour Department Selby Philip and GB Energy Texaco officials Julian Rojas and Jesus Summo.

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