Focus on workplace stress
Thu, 04/21/2016 - 12:00am
There is a legislative solution to workplace stress, as legislation has been proclaimed for the creation of a stress-free occupational environment.
However, not all workplaces are conforming with what is in the legislation.
Minister of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, made this point yesterday as she delivered the keynote address during the opening ceremony for a workshop hosted by the Labour Department, in conjunction with the Barbados Workers’ Union and the Barbados Employers’ Confederation.
The workshop, entitled “Workplace Stress: A Collective Challenge”, was held at Solidarity House to commemorate World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2016.
“The Safety and Health at Work Act… puts the onus on both employer and employee to create a safe environment, which includes a stress free environment. There is the Employment Rights Act also,” the Labour Minister told those gathered.
“Both of these are now on our statute books. They contain provisions to ensure that the health, safety and welfare of employees are protected, that workplaces, work spaces and procedures meet prescribed ergonomic standards and that employees are not subject to arbitrary dismissal,” Byer Suckoo remarked.
“In addition, we should soon have the Sexual Harassment Bill and the Employment (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill. So we do have a legislative framework to ensure that the workplace is safer, but legislation can only be a part of the solution. Certainly we have seen that even with the passage of this legislation, there are still workplaces that do not conform to what the legislation describes,” the Labour Minister stated.
The Minister did acknowledge however, that at the level of the enterprise, there are Joint Safety and Health Committees which are prescribed in the Safety and Health Act, and these,
she said, have proven to be useful in facilitating dialogue between employers and employees, on the many factors that impact on stress in the workplace.
These include work schedules, physical working conditions, relationships at work, communication and organisational structure and culture, all of which have a bearing on the level of stress in the workplace.
One area that the Joint Safety and Health Committees can become more actively involved in, the Minister however pointed out, is the introduction of Workplace Health and Wellness Programmes, which can help to build camaraderie amongst workers and provide avenues for the workers to relieve stress.