Campaign to cut workplace cancer highlighted at Caribbean safety and health meeting
Safety and health professionals in the Caribbean are backing a campaign to cut the rates of work-related cancer.
The Caribbean Branch of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) heard about the ‘No Time to Lose’ campaign which is urging businesses to do their part to prevent staff from contracting cancer.
During the meeting it was said that in Latin America and the Caribbean more than 31,000 people die each year from cancer caused by work.
Meanwhile up to four per cent of all cancers diagnosed in the region – and eight per cent of lung cancers – are caused by work. Work-related malignant mesothelioma claims the lives of around 2,000 people each year.
Among the causes are exposure to asbestos and silica dust as well as working in the
Navin Ragoo and Shazam Edoo, Vice-Chair and Treasurer of the IOSH Caribbean Branch respectively, gave the presentation on the drive.
After the meeting, Navin said: “There is rightly a lot of focus on preventing workplace accidents such as falls from height. However, it is equally important that businesses ensure that the health of their staff is protected.
“One of the major causes of work-related deaths in this region and other parts of the world is cancer. Often those who are exposed to carcinogens do not show any symptoms until many years after.
“The ‘No Time to Lose’ campaign is looking to reduce the amount of people who suffer from this awful disease as a result of going about their daily business.”
Over 60 firms across the world have made a pledge to the campaign, which was launched by IOSH a year ago. By doing so they agree to assess whether work activities that staff perform have the potential to cause cancer and, if so, to develop a prevention strategy. Meanwhile more than 110 firms have endorsed the drive.
Across the world, 666,000 people die from work-related cancer each year – one death every 47 seconds.
The meeting was held at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on Friday 4th December.
Among other topics being discussed were the proposed worldwide safety and health standard ISO 45001 which will replace BS OHSAS 18001 and aims to prevent injury and ill health and cut the estimated worldwide annual toll of more than 2.3 million work-related fatalities.
Dr Ralph Gonsalves will serve as prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines after leading his Unity Labour Party (ULP) to a fourth consecutive election victory.
But predictions of a landslide victory in Wednesday’s election did not come to pass. The ULP won with the same one-seat majority it took in the last election, with eight of the seats in the 15-seat Parliament. The other seven went to the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) led by Arnhim Eustace.
Both party leaders won their seats, along with Gonsalves’ son, Camillo Gonsalves, who contested an election for the first time and defeated the NDP’s Linton Lewis who is the opposition party’s chairman. He got 3,124 votes to Lewis’ 2,521 votes in the East St. George constituency.
However, the ULP has called for a recount in two constituencies won by the NDP – North Leeward and South Leeward.
In South Leeward, the NDP’s Nigel Stephenson kept his seat, winning 119 votes more than the ULP’s Jomo Thomas who secured 2,619 votes; while in North Leeward, the NDP’s Roland Matthews got 2,259 votes, beating newcomer Carlos James of the ULP by just 7 votes.
“We are looking into various issues in North Leeward and South Leeward and we are also calling for an immediate recount to ensure that all the votes are counted in those constituencies. There are more rejected ballots than the margin and those ballots should be examined closely to determine the intent of the voters,” Gonsalves said.
The prime minister said he was humbled by the victory. “I thank God for a wonderful victory through the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I’m honoured to serve you for another term.
“I am humbled and honoured that the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines embraced our bold vision for the future and rejected the politics of hate,” he said.
“We ask Vincentians to celebrate this victory in peace and maturity. Now is the time to come together as one nation to address our developmental challenges and move forward to uplift our nation and its people.”
Election Day featured allegations of fraud, levelled by the NDP even before the polls had closed.
The opposition party said there were many irregularities including illegal voting, and two different sets of voters’ lists.
Also contesting the election but making no real impact were the Democratic Republican Party (DRP) and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Green Party (SVGP).