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Nov 29, 2019

S.S.B. Spends Millions in Employment Injury; is OSH Bill the Solution?

Millions of dollars are expended annually for employment injury by the Social Security Board.  It gives rise to the need for the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Bill, which was read in the House back in 2014.  Today, the S.S.B. hosted an employment injury forum. The purpose is to create awareness, sensitization and prevention of employment injuries at work as well as to promote health, safety and wellbeing. News Five’s Duane Moody files this report.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Discussion continues on the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Bill, which was tabled in the House of Representatives back in 2014, but has still not been made law. Despite the five-year delay, both public and private sector entities have been dialoguing on what is best for the employer and the safety of the employee. Today, an Employment Injury Forum, hosted by the Social Security Board, brought together all stakeholders to create awareness and promote safety and wellbeing at the workplace.


Colin Young

Dr. Colin Young, C.E.O., S.S.B.

“It’s intended to engage employers and employees in the need for us to advance the OSH legislation because we believe that a focus on workplace safety is beneficial for employers, for employees and also for the Social Security Fund. We have and we are sharing a number of statistics today with the participants for them to be able to see how employment injury impacts their social security fund, but also how it impacts the lives and families of employees. And that often times the benefits that they are paid from Social Security, depending on the extent of their injuries, is not sufficient to cover their cost, as well as to maintain their quality of lives.”


Employment injury has cost the Social Security Board over fifty-three million dollars over the last twelve years; five point seven million dollars in 2018 alone. The OSH legislation would allow S.S.B. to put in place minimum requirements to help protect injury, which C.E.O. Doctor Colin Young says would make the organization more efficient in its services.


Dr. Colin Young

“What was presented would be onerous to employers and I think that is where the conversation is being had between the two sides. And I believe that whatever it is that is agreed between the labour side and the employers; that it can be phased in overtime—that we start somewhere and then we get to where we want to go overtime that is cognizant of that fact that some of what is being asked to be included is going to be costly and there will be adverse impact on the employers’ side. At the same time, employees’ lives, you can’t put a price on that.”


While it is the responsibility of everyone to be safety conscious, the employer takes the lead since it’s their workplace and the brunt of the cost is majority on their pockets. And that has been met with reluctance. The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the official representative of the International Labour Organization in Belize; that organization focuses on the safety of employees at the workplace. Member Relationship Manager and Occupational Safety and Health Trainer Yorshabell Cattouse says that while employers are concerned about the investment, there are inexpensive measures that can be implemented in the workplace.


Yorshabell Cattouse

Yorshabell Cattouse, OSH Trainer, B.C.C.I.

“Employers, they don’t want to always pay more because you are in the business to be really productive and efficient and effective. Workers also don’t want to pay more of their pay because they more they can take home for their families is better for them. And the government, the largest employer for the country, of course they don’t want to pay more in expense. So that’s why we have been doing consultations so that we can work out something that is amenable. The Chamber also participated; we got a scholarship from ILO. They gave a scholarship to seven countries, Belize was one of them. And the scholarship was  to get training on twenty-seven different important topics that you can back to Belize and help employers to implement safety measures and some of these measures don’t even cost a dime.”


The informational session sensitized participants on the importance of preventing accidents at the workplace. Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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