Guyana’s Ministry of Labour said it is forging ahead with establishing strong relationships with oil and gas companies operating in the new oil producing South American country and promoting more health and safety awareness in the sector.
On Monday, the ministry launched a two-day Joint Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Committee Training Programme for representatives of ExxonMobil.
The programme, which is being conducted at the Pegasus Hotel, was developed to train members of the Joint Workplace Safety and Health Committee established with Exxon and enable them to execute their mandate in the workplace as required by the provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, Chapter 99:10.
The core objective of the programme is to equip the representatives with sufficient knowledge and skills to develop and maintain safe systems and safe methods of work, which will ultimately minimize and/or eliminate workplace accidents. However, the programme also features other learning objectives such as enabling the participants to demonstrate an understanding of the basic tenets of OSH; ensuring they can recognize and evaluate hazards in the workplace and describe measures for their elimination and control; ensuring they can competently conduct accident investigations; and more importantly ensuring they know and understand their roles and responsibilities as representatives of the Joint Workplace Safety and Health Committee.
Moreover, it is expected that following the completion of their training, the participants will also be able to conduct a workplace inspection and prepare a place to control and/ or eliminate hazards in their own workplaces.
The opening session of the programme saw in attendance senior officials such as the Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton; Exxon’s Country Manager, Alistair Routledge; the Ministry’s OSH Consultant and defacto Head of the OSH Department, Gwyneth King; Exxon’s Safety and Health Manager, Brad Edlington; and Senior OSH Officer, Roydon Croal.
Routledge while giving brief remarks stated that adequate safety and health training is important, and the company embraces the opportunity provided by the ministry to ensure it understands the expectations of the OSH Act and the best practices that will be shared throughout the programme.
On the other hand, the labour minister during his address highlighted that Exxon would have been the first company that the ministry established a Joint Workplace Safety and Health Committee with through the OSH Department and since then the company has been supportive of the ministry’s regulation of OSH throughout the country.
He outlined that as it relates to enforcement of the OSH Act, the ministry is keen on holding both private and public sector entities to the same standard because “there is no sacred cow”. The minister said that all officers of the ministry conduct their inspections impartially adding that, “My position is…the same way how you go up to GTT or you go down to ExxonMobil, you must go down to GGMC and Ministry of Health or wherever because everywhere must be safe.”
In addition, he called attention to the fact that there have been approximately 50 reported workplace deaths since he assumed office last August, which is a grave concern.