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THE OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH AUTHORITY OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Occupational Safety and Health in Trinidad and Tobago has been governed since 1948 via the Factories Ordinance 1948 as amended in 1952. As early as 1973, Trinidad and Tobago examined a number of drafts to amend and review the health and safety law. In 2004, the Occupational Safety and Health Act was assented to, primarily because the existing legislation proved to be narrow in scope, outdated and inappropriate to deal with the expanding industrial sector, and most occupations and workplaces fell far outside the ambit of the legal framework of the Factories Ordinance of 1948. The Occupational Safety and Health Act was proclaimed In February 2006.

This Occupational Safety and Health Act 3, 2004 as amended in 2006 provides for the revision and extension the law regarding the safety, health and welfare of persons at work in order to keep pace with the country’s rapid industrialization. it covers most workers with the exception of workers in private homes (domestic workers) and all aspects of work undertaken in an industrial establishment (defined as a factory, shop, office, place of work or other premises excluding residential premises) that may have significant impacts on the health and safety of the employees.

The objective of the amendment was to strengthen the system of law which promotes voluntary compliance by facilitating stronger self-governance by the employer and the workers and a more regulatory role by the government. The amendment benefits both employers and employees. It ensures that the promotion of high safety and health standards does not hinder business performance, productivity and efficiency in addition to addressing employee rights and issues such as sufficient protection and avenues for redress in accordance with the law and good industrial relations practices.

The Act provides for the establishment of two entities, the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (referred to as the Agency) and the Occupational Safety and Health Authority (referred to as the Authority).

The OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH AGENCY is an enforcing body with legal powers of access to every industrial establishment, to undertake investigations and to use their legal intervention powers i.e. the issuing of Improvement Notices, Prohibition Notices and starting prosecution procedures in the Industrial Court, or in specific cases, the Criminal Court. As of August 2007 the Occupational Safety and Health Agency commenced it general operations placing emphasis in the areas of Oil and Gas, Ports, Chemical and Petrochemical Industry, General Manufacturing Construction and Quarries, Agriculture and Public Services, and Occupational Health.

The main objective of the Agency is compliance with the Act and related regulations As such, public awareness, the sensitization of industrial partners and stakeholders and close co-operation with other Ministries and institutions, the conduct of training are critical to the promotion of a preventative safety and health culture in Trinidad and Tobago.

The Agency is responsible for the implementation of the policies formulated by the Authority, for initiating consultation with government entities performing various inspection functions, with the objective of formulating memoranda of understanding, establishing mechanisms for co-ordination across jurisdictional lines and the provision for the implementation of integrated occupational safety and health programs.

The OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH AUTHORITY has the primary function of policy formulation. The Authority is the regulatory body that is responsible to the Government for the implementation of the provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, acts as an Advisory Body on policy, standards and matters related to Occupational Safety and Health and makes recommends on regulations and establishment of codes of practice.

Trinidad and Tobago is one of the participating countries in the Inter-Governmental Forum on Chemical Safety and holds a position on the Forum Standing Committee. This Forum deals with chemical safety management guidelines and advice to governments on policy for chemical management.

The OSH Agency represents the National Focal Point for Trinidad and Tobago. 

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