Inspectors at the Occupational Safety and Health Authority and Agency (OSHA) will return to their workplace today without any COVID-19 related policies and protocols being finalised for their health and safety.
This is according to their representing union BIGWU.
The little over 30 inspectors, who have been working from home since late March, were informed of their proposed return to work late last week after Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh granted an exemption in a letter sent to the organisation’s executive director Carolyn Sancho.
In the exemption letter sent on April 28, obtained by Guardian Media, Deyalsingh reminded Sancho to observe health protocols with the reopening of the offices.
Guardian Media understands that the Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU), which represents the inspectors, wrote to the organisation seeking an update on its COVID-19 policies in light of the proposed return to the workplace but received no response up to late yesterday.
“We seek an urgent response regarding the implementation of said protocols, or in the very least, mature deliberations with the very union branch officials, who are the experts in the field, so that their lives will not be placed at greater risk in the absence of these protocols and/or assessment of risk,” BIGWU labour relations officer Wesley Francis said in an email sent late last week.
Contacted yesterday, union branch president Victor Salazar said that despite their concerns over the lack of risk assessments and clear guidelines, the inspectors were committed to performing their duties, which included providing guidance on similar measures to companies across T&T.
Salazar said that the policy and protocols were especially needed if inspectors are required to make site visits during the course of their duties.
He explained that the branch executive made proposals which were inadequately addressed in the organisation business continuity plan since mid-March but received no response.