As far back as 2013, the trade unions in Belize began agitating for the introduction of the Occupational Safety and Health Bill (OSH), a year later it was introduced in the House of Representatives but because of opposition from the business community, the Bill has not seen the light of day.
There has been much talk by the unions to have it passed, but it simply does not get the attention it deserves. A major hindrance to the implementation of the bill is the cost that employers will bear. The bill is a sweeping one which requires much attention to be placed on the welfare of employees at the work place. That means additional expenses for those employers as they would have to invest in equipment and infrastructure to make workplaces safer. Simply put, there is no will to have it done, either by the unions or the employers.
One organization that is now complaining about the lack of its implementation is the Social Security Board. During its SSB Connect on Tuesday August 13, CEO Colin Young explained that the lack of an OSH is resulting in greater pay outs by the Social Security Board for employment injuries. He explained to The Guardian that a large portion of these pay outs can be avoided as the injuries are preventable. They are preventable he explained, if the adequate prevention protocols were in place.
The SSB’s Chandra Cansino added that, under the OSH, the responsibility for exercising greater care while on the job is also placed on employees themselves and as such it would mean that they would exercise more caution while at the workplace. She added that if she were to make an educated guess, about half of the injuries at the workplace are preventable. She noted one example of workers in the agriculture sector that are injured with machetes. If the OSH were to be implemented, it would mean that sharp machetes would have to be carried in guards, minimizing the possibility of injuries as a result of these sharp objects.