Prior to the proclamation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, 2004 as amended (the OSH Act) in 2006, matters relating to occupational safety and health were dealt with by the Factories Inspectorate, which was established under the Factories Ordinance of 1948. However, owing to evolving technology, the Factories Ordinance became inadequate to cope with the many new hazards which arose as a result of the industrial expansion and diversification. In addition the Factories Ordinance only had jurisdiction over persons employed in factories. As a result, new legislation, the OSH Act was introduced. The regulations developed under the Factories Ordinance remain in force and are deemed to be incorporated under the OSH Act in accordance with Section 98 subsection 2.
The scope and applicability of the OSH Act are to ensure that industrial establishments, in the private and public sectors, manage safety, health and welfare in the workplace using the legal compliance requirements as a minimum standard.
The OSH Authority which was established under the OSH Act is a multi-stakeholder advisory body to the Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise Development (MOLSED). The Authority comprises 17 members and is led by a Chairman. The core task of the Authority is to encourage the enforcement of the OSH Act, to promote training and research, provide information and to develop Regulations and Approved Codes of Practice (A.C.O.P.).The OSH Agency is the enforcement arm of the OSH Authority. The Agency is led by an Executive Director.
The Occupational Safety and Health Authority and Agency (OSHA), opened its offices on August 17th, 2007. Its Head Office is located at 9 Alexandra Street, St Clair, Port of Spain with sub-offices at Duke Street, Port of Spain, San Fernando and Tobago.
There are operational units within the Inspectorate comprised of Safety and Health Inspector Is, Safety and Health Inspectors IIs, Senior Inspectors and the Chief Inspector who is the head of the Inspectorate.
Inspectors are empowered under the OSH Act to access all industrial establishments, acquire any information needed to carry out investigations and to use its legal powers.
As an enforcement body, the main objective of the OSH Agency is to ensure compliance with the OSH Act. Its enforcement policy promotes voluntary compliance in the first instance. Therefore public awareness, the involvement and sensitization of tripartite partners and other stakeholders are considered critical in promoting a preventative safety and health culture in Trinidad and Tobago. Close co-operation with other ministries and institutions, as well as supporting OSH training structures and the provision of accessible OSH information are also essential to OSHA’s mandate. However OSHA is also actively pursuing prosecution of safety and health infractions as another arm of enforcement under the OSH Act.
OSHA continues to work towards the building and sustaining of a modern, efficient, effective and highly professional safety and health regulatory body which meets and even surpasses international standards.
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