World Day For Safety And Health At Work 2024 Address by the Honourable Spencer Brand

THE Honourable Spencer Brand, Minister of Labour in the Nevis Island Administration

Address by the Honourable Spencer Brand

Minister of Labour in the Nevis Island Administration

on the occasion of World Day For Safety And Health At Work

April 28,2024



Today, as we commemorate the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, as stipulated by the International Labour Organization, we are reminded of our collective responsibility to ensure that our workplaces are not only productive but are also safe and healthy environments for all employees.


This year, the theme observed internationally is “Ensuring Safe and Healthy Work Now in a Changing Climate.”


This theme highlights the urgent need to adopt more stringent safety and health practices in response to evolving challenges posed by climate change.


Climate change is not a distant threat; it is a reality that is already impacting the safety and health of all. Rising temperatures, increased frequency of extreme weather events, and environmental degradation are already posing new challenges and risks to the health and safety of workers; particularly those in vulnerable sectors such as agriculture, construction, schools, and outdoor workers.


These changes demand that we rethink and recalibrate our approach to workplace safety and health.


The challenges we face present us with opportunities. We have the chance to be innovative, to develop new strategies and technologies that can not only seek to mitigate the risks posed by climate change but also enhance overall workplace safety and health. This requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders, including government, employers, and employees.


In response to these challenges, the government has initiated discussions on various policies aimed at addressing safety concerns as they relate to the ever-changing climate. These include developing guidelines for heat stress management in the workplace, integrating climate risk assessments into occupational health and safety plans, and enhancing emergency preparedness for extreme weather events.


Additionally, Section 12 of the St. Christopher and Nevis Labour Act empowers inspectors to ensure that the state and conditions of work are following safety and health standards; a provision that is now more important than ever.


To achieve our goal, collaboration between the public and private sectors is essential. We must work together to share knowledge, resources, and best practices, to ensure that every workplace can adapt to the changing climate while safeguarding the health and safety of every worker.


A safe working environment is a foundational element which drives efficiency and effectiveness within the workforce. When employees operate in an environment which prioritizes their health and safety, they are more likely to perform at their best, thus contributing to the overall productivity and success of the organization. This approach not only benefits the individual worker but also plays a significant role in the economic health of an organization, and by extension the broader economy.


According to the International Labor Organization or “ILO”, some 2.3 million women and men around the world succumb to work-related accidents or diseases every year; this corresponds to over 6000 deaths every single day. Worldwide, there are around 340 million occupational accidents and 160 million victims of work- related illnesses annually.


The ILO updates these estimates at intervals, and the updates indicate an increase in accidents and ill health. The estimated fatal occupational accidents in the CIS countries are over 11,000 cases, compared to the 5,850 reported cases (information lacking from 2 countries).


The gross underreporting of occupational accidents and diseases, including fatal accidents, is giving a false picture of the scope of the problem.


Some of the major findings in the ILO’s latest statistical data on occupational accidents and diseases, and work-related deaths on a world-wide level include the following:


  • Diseases related to work cause the most deaths among workers. Hazardous substances alone are estimated to cause 651,279 deaths a year.


  • The construction industry has a disproportionately high rate of recorded accidents.


  • Younger and older workers are particularly vulnerable. The aging population in developed countries means that an increasing number of older people are working and need special consideration.


Safety in the workplace reduces the impact on our healthcare system. By implementing rigorous safety protocols and ensuring healthy working conditions, organizations can significantly reduce the incidents of work-related injuries and illnesses. This preventative measure is critical, especially in the context of a changing climate, where health risks are constantly emerging.


A reduction in work-related health issues directly translates to decreased demand for healthcare services, thus allowing these resources to be allocated elsewhere. This not only ensures that healthcare systems are not overwhelmed but also contributes to the sustainability of healthcare provision in a time of changing environmental conditions.


In essence, by safeguarding the health and safety of workers, we are also protecting and preserving the integrity and resilience of our healthcare systems and its essential workers.


Undoubtedly therefore, communication plays a crucial role in this endeavor. Creating awareness and fostering a culture of safety is paramount. Through effective communication we can ensure that all stakeholders are informed of the risks and the measures that can be taken to mitigate them. It is through awareness that we build a strong foundation for a culture of safety and health that is resilient in the face of climate change.


In closing ladies and gentlemen, allow me to take this opportunity to encourage our hardworking staff at the Nevis Labour department and our partner agencies in their proactive approach to educate our communities on Safety and Health at work.


Let us remember that ensuring safety and health in a changing climate is not just a responsibility; it is a moral imperative. We have the tools, the knowledge, and the collective will to make a difference. Let us move forward with a sense of urgency, commitment, and collaboration to protect the well-being of all workers now and for future generations.


Thank you and may our creator God continue to grant His protection in all workplaces.


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