The government has worked hard to come up with laws and regulations that govern and monitor the activities of workers in every department in Caribbean. These are set of standards that every must be followed by all employers in all sector of the economy. Through the ministry of labour in close relation to national social security, have made it mandatory for all employers to follow a set of rules and laws which ensure the safety of employees at work places is enhanced. It is true that the general performance of the company or organisation is dependent on the performance of the employees. This, therefore, means that employees must be kept in good health and sound mind so that they can continue performing to the best of their abilities. The rules set there in, are all aimed at making sure that employees remain safe at their work posts and in case of an accident, then emergency services must be available to rescue the victims(s). however, research indicates that most employers and their companies find themselves in a negative side of the law most often.
This happens mostly because the employers ignore or simply refuses to comply with the set regulations as stipulated under the acts of parliament. For instance, the law requires that very employer must purchase a fire fitting equipment such as fire extinguisher or even more advanced items for preventing fire from spreading in case it occurs. However, most people try to avoid extra expenses of buying such items. Anytime fire erupts in the working facilities, then most workers die or get seriously injured due to lack of proper equipment that could have been used to put off the fire. Law enforcers who work with the ministry of labour are, therefore, required to put to jail the directors of such a company and force them to face the full measure of the law. The comfortability and convenience of workers at work workplace is key to ensuring proper service delivery to the clients of an organisation and to the general public. It is not an option for that can be chosen or not. According to the employees act of Caribbean, this is a mandatory requirement and cannot be debated upon. Every organisation must comply and adhere to the same, failure to which such a company is fined large sums of money. Sometimes, the company may be seized if the offence committed claims several lives of the workers. It is therefore, an advice to company owners, managers and stakeholders in an organisation to provide safe grounds upon which employees are able to work comfortably and happily.
The organisation in question is a construction company located in Caribbean states. Kennos’ main aim is to provide construction wok using brick. The work conditions at the same place is not favourable as per the requirements of the Caribbean state workforce laws and regulations. In addition, there are so many activities going on while the number of workers remain low over a period of time. The ration or work availability to the workforce is almost 10:1 (Algeria, McGuire, Ojera & al, 2006). The company is engaged in construction of brick related structures such as houses, roads, bridges and many more. According to the sources available, the directors of the company in question does not follow the laid down procedures, laws, requirements and regulations which are all aimed at making the lives of employees at workplaces comfortable and complete. Human health is a key subject in any activity being undertaken (Alli, 2001).
According to the workforce act that aims at ensuring the workers in every company are safe from accidents occurring at the workplace, there must exist an individual whose duty is to foresee the safety of worker in the organisation. Research indicates that the Caribbean construction company had a workforce officer who was not qualified to handle such duties (Altman, 2000). The safety officer is a son to the general manager at the same facility. This means that the safety officer got the job through channels that are not recommended. He must have been appointed due the fact that his father is a general manager and so there was no one who could manage to question such actions due to the high rank of the general manager in the organisation.
Safety officer in every organisation needs to be academically qualified for the task at hand. She or she much know the requirements of a better, safer and conducive work environment. Anybody can, therefore, conclude that the negligence occurred because of lack of proper directives from the people concerned such as the safety officer. Appointing a non-qualified individual to head such a sensitive department was a crime and is punishable by law Carmichael, Fenton-Pinilla, Roncancio, Sing & Sadhra, 2016). The project manager, however, went ahead to put blames on the victim who was electrocuted for his own death. At the industrial court during a hearing of the case, Kenoss Contractors said that they had put warning signs in the compound at the workplace, which stated that only vehicles of a certain height should enter through the fence. According to the driver’s law, the contactors ordered the driver to drive the heavy engine vehicle to the compound through the gated entrance where there was an electric fence (Dement, Epling, Pompeii & Hunt, 2004).
Given that this was a construction company that deals in all construction materials and equipment, the hazards involved are many as much as human safety and life are concerned. These range from small dangers that can cause harm to people who are near, to large hazards that can cause death if not taken care of very well. Every type of hazard needs a special type of care. There are different items that an organisation needs to put in place to prevent different types of hazards. For example, a fire extinguisher is needed to put off fire in case it occurs at work place. Large sun glasses are needed to be worn by construction engineers since they work in a dusty construction environment (Griffiths, Mackey & Adamson, 2007).
The first hazard that, which claimed the life of a driver in the company if electrically related. The driver was driving a heavy engine vehicle past the company gate and that is where he met his death. This happened because the gate was not large enough to permit swift entry of all the company vehicles. Moreover, the gate was fenced using an electric fence with live wires running across it. As per the report, the vehicle hit the fence and caused the wires to touch the vehicle thus making its body to contact the electric current. The current flew up to the driver’s seat and finally to his body. This made the driver die due to electrocution (Hasle & Limborg, 2006).
Another hazard in the same construction company that workers face in their daily duties is availability of too much dust. Dust that result from construction have negative health issues. Some causes permanent deformations while others cause death to the victim. Too much dust cause throat cancer. Research shows that slightly over 40 % of occupational cancer results from dust especially in construction companies. Such types of cancer always tend to be a problem during treatment. This means that construction companies contribute to overall health weaknesses and death in the world (Hodge, Ackerman, Evans, Erb &Cook, 2002).
In construction companies, there is a very hazardous compound that is used to stick the ballast together. This compound is very dangerous to human health. It contains chemicals that once it comes to contact with the human skin, it causes damages such as skin cracks, loss of skin sensitivity and many more. The skin also loses its original colour and texture. All these are caused by elements emitted from the construction apparatus and machines. It should also be known that paint is also a construction material. Paint on the other hand, causes breathing and heart problems. This is due to the tiny particles emitted and carried away by wind during the painting exercise (Health and safety engineers, 2015).
Moreover, construction work involves physical health risks that leave the workers physically deformed. These include back paint injuries and upper limb disorders. Semiskilled persons are also not left out in this category. They suffer from injuries cause by falling bricks and suffer the risk of being hit by the same brick. As if that is not enough, all workers who work at the construction firms suffer from ear drum damage due to too much noise produced by machines during stone crashing (Lingard & Rowlinson, 2005). This, not only affects the workers at the sites alone, but also people who live nearby the construction industries. The heavy vibrations that takes place from the construction sites is a big problem to the workers themselves and the people who live around the industry’s settings. Many houses have been reported to have fallen or developed large open cracks that result from strong vibration from the construction sites Marlenga, Berg, Linneman, Brison & Pickett, 2007).
How the safety breach could have been avoided
The works union has put strict measures that guides every employer on what to do in case of an injury at workplace. Besides, there are guidelines and requirements that must be available at every work place to prevent any dangers from occurring. In this case, the management could have avoided the risk in several ways as outlined below;
- The management could have adopted the guidelines set by the law. The same could have acted as the reference board for everyone to look into any time before engaging in any dangerous activity within the company.
- The report tells us that the company entrance gate was small in size and so the heavy engine trucks could not easily go through (Panikkar, Woodin, Brugge, Desmarais, Hyatt, & Gute, 2013). This is a mistake that the management needs to own. They are the people who are tasked with buying company equipment, yet after purchasing oversized items they want it to go through a small area. The gate could be enlarged so that every vehicle is able to access the facility through the recommended entrance easily without posing dangers (Robson, Clarke, Cullen, Bielecky, Severin, Bigelow & Mahood, 2007). That way the vehicle could not have knocked the gates.
- the research also points out that the driver was electrocuted after hitting the gate. There was no need of putting a live wire along the gate that people go through daily. This was a neglect on the side of the management. Alternatively, the gate is supposed to be manned by a security officer every time to protect unauthorised people from gaining access to the facility, other than having an electric wire (that contains live electricity) go through the gate. If this could have been the case, then the drivers could not have died of electrocution (Quinlan, Mayhew, & Bohle, 2001).
- The board of management needs to have emergency personnel employed in the company. These must be people drawn from the public health department who knows how to handle electricity related emergency cases. They will be the ones to give first aid, or even full treatment, to any electricity related victims and many others (Schulte, Carol, Okun, Palassis, & Biddle, 2005).
What happened and how it was addressed
The company driver was electrocuted while attending to his duties in the company. This happened because he was trying to drive the vehicle through a gate that was smaller than the size of the vehicle itself. In the process, he ended up being electrocuted by the electric wires that were put on the gate for security purposes. The company was then taken to an industrial court which found them guilty and changed the company $1.1 million dollars over the death of the company driver who lost his life while in line of duty.
However, I could have addressed such an incident by first, setting aside a department within the company that deals only with directing employees on what to do at any given time concerning health and safety measures. Second, as the management, I could have invested in hospital equipment so that we have a small hospital like facility within the company so that we don’t need to wait until our own employees gets to the public hospital for treatment. They will be treated and discharged while still within the company. Only serious cases that needed more advanced facilities that could have been referred to an appropriate hospital after we have given the necessary first aid in our own facility. Furthermore, I could have introduced a health insurance cover so that all workers are insured for free treatment in case they are injured at work (Shockey, Zack, Matthew & Sussell, Aaron, 2017).
Companies need to adopt the regulation set by the law. The managers need to also make sure that safety standards are maintained in the company. All tools that prevents hazards in any workplace need to be put in place. Companies and organisations are also advised to stop using short cuts when implementing activities in the company. This means that the right people needs to be put in the right places to perform activities that they are capable of doing easily without panic. When delegating activates, managers need to know that academic qualification of individuals is important. Otherwise, as seen above, when people in charge fail to do the right thing, the arm of law is always ready to deals with such people mercilessly. It is therefore, important to do the right thing and avoid paying large sums of money to industrial courts as a penalty.
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