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All is well—Ramgoolam
There is absolutely no truth to reports of Sick Building Syndrome in any Government building, according to Public Administration Minister Rudrawatee Nan Gosine-Ramgoolam. Speaking from her office on the Seventh Floor of the NALIS Building in Port-of-Spain, the Minister said such claims are unfounded. She said there were initial problems with the plumbing at the Service Commission building. “Employees also indicated there was a smell in the building but it wasn’t happening with everybody,” she said.
“Recognising that employees were complaining, it was only reasonable that the managers responded because we are guided by the OSH Act and it is mandatory that there is a safe environment for employees,” Gosine-Ramgoolam said.
A dedicated public officer for some 36 years, Gosine-Ramgoolam said the Service Commission department contracted Cariri to conduct several tests which revealed that the building is suitable for human habitation. “We would never put employees in a sick building. However, recognising that employees have been complaining over time it is our mandate to move the employees out. “The owner has been constantly called in to see whether it is the sewer system, the drainage or the air-conditioning unit, because if you don’t clean your vents regularly you definitely get sick,” Gosine-Ramgoolam said.
The major problem with the Service Commission building, she said, is lack of space.
“They need 65,000-70,000 square feet of space in one location because of the nature, mandate and functions of service commission. “They are the central agency that treats with every single public officer and they must have their information and files readily available.” The Minister said efforts are being made to locate a building which may be out of Port-of-Spain, including Couva and Chaguanas. She said these areas would also be beneficial as most employees live in South or Central. $22M monthly in rent...plans to reduce bill. Government is saddled with a rental bill of nearly $22 million a month, but has a plan to immediately reduce its expenditure on leases, Gosine-Ramgoolam said.
This includes low or no renting, new construction, or acquisition of office buildings. Decentralisation is also key, she added, as it will result in the alleviation of traffic congestion and parking problems.
There are also plans to improve the marketing of TTConnect Services Centres and encourage more ministries to deliver their services through these centres.
The OSH ACT
25G. (1) Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of—
(a) the risks to the safety and health of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work; and
(b) the risks to the safety and health of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking,
for the purpose of identifying the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under the relevant statutory provisions.
Section 31. Every industrial establishment shall be kept clean and free from effluvia arising from any drain, sanitary convenience or other source, and, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provision—
(a) accumulations of dirt and refuse shall be removed daily, where practicable, by suitable methods from the floors, benches, furniture, furnishings and fittings of workrooms, and from the staircases and passages;
(b) the floors of every workroom shall be kept clean and properly maintained;
(c) effective means shall be provided, maintained and used to prevent the breeding of insects, rats, mice or other vermin; and
(d) effective means shall be provided and maintained for the draining of wet floors and yards, where necessary.
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