PHILIPSBURG–The Inspectorate of Labour said on Thursday that it is enforcing the stance of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in supporting the need of safe work for all.
The Inspectorate said in a press release that in the aftermath of and recovery from Hurricane Irma, many accidents happen such as falling from a roof and many work places have to deal with serious mould infestation.
“The Labour Inspectorate aims to ultimately ensure that all businesses comply with existing safety legislation as well as international standards and guidelines,” the release said.
Every employer and management therefore has a legal obligation and responsibility with regard to the National Ordinance on Occupational Safety to keep the workplace safe and healthy; preventing danger; taking reasonable precautions to ensure the safety and health of every person in the workplace and ensuring that all employees with special needs be given directions, notices, information and instructions on training that is required, by any method of communication that readily permits the employees to receive it.
Businesses can conduct workplace risk assessments in five steps. Step one is to identify out how workers and visitors could be harmed. This is achieved by surveying the workplace and all work activities and identifying the hazards to safety and health.
Step two is to identify who might be harmed and how; i.e., what type of injury or ill health might occur.
Step three is to evaluate the risk. Identify and decide on the safety and health risk control measures.
Step four is to record who is responsible for implementing which control measure and the timeframe. Make a plan of action to deal with the most important things first.
Step 5 is to record and display the findings from steps one through four and make available to workers, supervisors and labour inspectors.
Monitor the effectiveness of the control measures and review what is being done on an ongoing basis. Review whether the assessment is still valid; this will help to make sure occupational safety and health standards are still improving, or at least not sliding back.
The Inspectorate said that 58 per cent of the world’s population spend one-third of their adult life at work, contributing actively to the development and wellbeing of themselves, their families and of society. The average adult spends approximately 40 per cent of his or her total day at work. Occupational safety and health (OSH) involves the health and safety of everyone involved, not only the employees and the employers of a workplace, but also patrons.
On the issue of moulds, the release said these are fungi that can be found both indoors and outdoors. Moulds grow best in warm, damp and humid conditions, and spread and reproduce by making spores.
Some people are sensitive to moulds. For these people, exposure to moulds can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation. Some people, such as those with serious allergies to moulds, may have more severe reactions. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of moulds in occupational settings. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath.
Some people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mould infections in their lungs. There is sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mould with upper-respiratory-tract symptoms, cough and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition.
Sensitive individuals should avoid areas that are likely to have mould, such as compost piles, cut grass, and wooded areas.
Mould growth can be slowed by controlling humidity levels and by proper ventilation of areas.
“If there is mould growth in your workspace or home, you should clean up the mould and fix the water (from leakages/condensation) problem. Moisture control is key to solving mould problems. Mould growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than one cup of household laundry bleach in one gallon of water. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners.
“Open windows and doors to provide fresh air. Wear non-porous gloves and protective eye wear. If the area to be cleaned is more than 10 square feet, consult a professional.”
According to the Inspectorate, the importance of safety on the job cannot be underestimated and all work-related accidents must be reported to the Labour Inspectorate and Social and Health Insurances SZV.
Violation of occupational safety and health regulations is punishable by law with three to six months imprisonment or with a fine.