By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter
The National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) agrees that the proposed Occupational Safety and Health Bill may need amendments before being passed, Dylan Reneau NTUCB president said.
The union and the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) have both made submissions to the Public Service, Labor, Industry and Trade Committee and are waiting for word from the committee on when public consultations will begin.
The NTUCB maintains that Belize, as a signatory to the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) OSH Convention, is required to translate that international commitment to local legislation.
The union also maintains that implementing the OSH Bill would improve staff motivation and ultimately increase productivity and profitability. According to the union, OSH compliance by any business would demonstrate a sense of social responsibility.
According to the NTUCB, the OSH Bill would actually reduce business cost and result in less disruption. The union maintains that having the Bill in place would lower the rate of disability and injury. The union also said the Bill would reduce workers’ compensation costs as well as reducing lost workdays and limit equipment damage.
The union also maintains that having and enforcing the OSH Bill would build a more competent and healthier workforce while reducing staff turnover and reduce the risk and costs of fines and litigation.
In response to some of the concerns raised by the BCCI the union has recommended that the OSH policy be open to periodic review by a tripartite structure including the government, employers and worker representatives.
The NTUCB has also recommended that section 4 (5) of the OSH Act, which excludes domestic workers from coverage under the Bill, be amended in order to remove contradiction and ensure compliance with the convention.
The union recommends an amendment to Section 49 of the Act to ensure that annual statistics are submitted from the proposed National OSH Authority to the Minister of Labor each year.
The union has also recommended that provision be made for employers to provide measures to deal with emergencies and accidents, including adequate first-aid arrangement.
The union has advised the government to introduce a legal provision in order to ensure a major protection of workers involved in occupational accidents and injuries.