Guyana Security Standards Not Appropriate For Major Industries – US State Department Report
Kaieteur News – The US State Department’s 2020 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Guyana has outlined that the country’s Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Standards are not appropriate for the major industries. Although the report did not identify these industries, it is no secret that Guyana’s major industries include, but are not limited to, gold, diamond, bauxite and wood. The report further spoke to Guyana’s failure to effectively enforce its OSH laws.
Labor Minister Joseph Hamilton recently referred to the country’s need for stronger enforcement and updating of OSH and Labor laws. This announcement would have indicated that the government is currently drafting new and revised OSH and Labor laws, and that they can expect a draft by the second quarter of this year (June).
Hamilton had revealed that Guyana recorded 32 workplace deaths in 2020, with a population of just 750,000, adding that this situation cannot continue. Furthermore, he noted that 300 workplace accidents were also reported last year. “How many people died peacefully in 2020 in this country? Thirty-two in a population of 760,000, we can’t afford that. How many people lost their legs and were ill because of injuries at work sites? … Over 300, ”Hamilton stressed.
The US State Department report would also have highlighted that, in addition to Guyana’s poor OSH standards, the Ministry did not have enough “inspectors” (Labor and OSH officials), to effectively enforce the existing laws. “Labor surveys carried out during the year targeted all sectors, including agriculture, mining and construction. Ministry sequence (s) of labor inspection findings varied, and employer compliance was also inconsistent, ”the report noted.
On a good note, it stated that “… the law provides that categories of workers have the right to remove themselves from unsafe working environments without jeopardizing their employment, and authorities effectively protected workers in these situations.”
The administration has rolled out an OSH campaign to ensure compliance in the private and public sector, in all ten Guyana Administrative Regions.