Chairman's Social Security Week 2015 Radio Address
Russel Reid, Chairman, Social Security Board
35th Anniversary Speech
This year we celebrate Social Security week 2015 under the theme “Health, Safety, and Social Security: A Shared Responsibility”. The theme in my opinion is quite timely and relevant giving the grim report from the International Labour Organization (ILO) on Health and Safety at work. The ILO estimated that globally 2.3 millions persons die from work related accident or disease each year. Additionally, 250 million workers suffer non-fatal injuries while 160 million fall ill for shorter or longer periods. These workplace related fatalities and injuries can result in high economic hardship for countries. The ILO further estimated that the total costs of such accidents and work related ill health amount to approximately US$2.3 trillion economic burden on global economies annually. A large portion of theses costs falls on Governments and Social Security systems.
In Anguilla, the lack of proper data does not give us a true picture of our own situation. However to my recollection, we had two known deaths recorded from occupational accidents during the past ten years. Notwithstanding this fact, the records of the social security office will show a high percentage of disability payments to workers due to workplace accidents and injuries.
So what are the tangible and intangible consequences when accidents and work related illnesses occur in the workplace?
The consequences of accidents at work and work related ill health negatively affect not only the victims/workers, but also their families, the companies and society on a whole.
For the victims who have been injured on the job, they suffer pain and suffering as well as loss of salary and high medical costs. Family and friends have to deal with moral and psychological suffering and financial loss which is even greater if those persons were the bread winners for the family. The company subsequently has to alter its operations for absenteeism, training of new staff, legal sanctions and decrease production. Society on a whole is also impacted negatively when workers become incapacitated due to accidents and injuries on the job resulting in reduction of the quality of life for families, loss of production, early retirement and increase social security costs.
So what can be done to help remedy this situation?
All stakeholders need to build a culture of prevention on occupational Safety and Health. Each and every one of us must contribute to prevent occupational deaths, injuries and diseases. It is a Shared Responsibility.
A national culture of prevention entails:
1. Respecting the right to a safe and healthy working environment at all
2. Employers must ensure that effective and all inclusive Health and Safety
programmes are implemented at their establishments
3. Workers have to take preventative actions for their own Safety and Health
as well by wearing proper protective gear, and becoming more conscious
of the same.
4. It is time for Government to create policies and enact modern laws on
occupational Safety and Health.
5. In my view, the Anguilla Social Security Board has to play a proactive
and major role in this initiative. We must facilitate discourse among all
stakeholders to promote consensus building for the implementation of
effective national occupational safety and health policies and updated
laws for Anguilla.
In other words, my call is for urgent action to create a preventative culture on occupational health and safety to reduce and /or eliminate the pain, suffering and financial burden on victims, their families, employers, Government and the Social Security Board.
So as we celebrate Social Security week this year, let us look at the bigger picture and join together to solve health and safety problems in the workplace.
I Thank you.