Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security Derrick Kellier (right) in discussion with Vice President of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union Alden Brown during the official signing of the 2015-2017 Labour Management Agreement for the Building/Construction Industry, at the Incorporated Masterbuilders Association of Jamaica offices in Kingston.

A Worker's Safety Passport for employees in the construction industry will be introduced later this year.

The passport is being developed by the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Department of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, and will represent the level of training and certification of the workers on a particular site.

Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security Derrick Kellier, said the ministry expects that when this system comes on stream, no worker will be admitted to a work site unless he/she carries the passport indicating certification.

Kellier was speaking at the official signing of the 2015-2017 Labour Management Agreement for the Building/Construction Industry at the Incorporated Masterbuilders Association of Jamaica offices, in Kingston on Wednesday.

"...The expectation is that construction sites will only employ certified workers, as certification will be the only guarantee that the workers are competent and equipped to operate safely on sites," the minister added.

According to Kellier, under the pending OSH Act the ministry would be the only body authorised to certify workers for the passports. He emphasised that the passport will assist in reducing accidents on construction sites.

"The idea will be for every worker on a worksite to be exposed to a five-hour training programme, and then be certified. This basic training will focus on safety under the Building Operations and Works of Engineering Construction (BOWEC) Regulations. And, workers will be trained about the hazards and risks they are exposed to in the work environment, and how to operate safely," he said.

Kellier said that data from the OSH Department indicated that the number of accidents reported in the fiscal year 2013/14 increased to 383, representing a 75 per cent increase over the 219 reported in 2012/13.

"This is moving in the wrong direction and we want to reverse this trend. Decent work must be safe work, and safety and wellness at the workplace can translate into greater productivity, efficiency and profitability," he said.

The minister, in the meantime, encouraged more young people to tap into the construction industry for career development as there are numerous opportunities both locally and internationally.

He urged members of the IMAJ, the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, the National Workers Union and the Trade Union Congress to work with schools, training institutions, and curriculum advisors/developers to engage the interest of youngsters around careers in the building and construction industries.

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