Member of Parliament for Pointe-a-Pierre, Dr David Lee MP, is urging Government to take advantage of the current lockdown period to implement policies and regulations to ensure strong measures are in place to combat COVID-19 in the workplace, before citizens return to work.

In a news release issued today, MP Lee observes that there were warning signs that workplaces were dangerous super-spreader sites, a reality that must be addressed comprehensively.

“Before the lockdown, there were reports of many employers forcing employees to be on the job, operating in spaces that were too compact to allow the social distancing required while ventilation was extremely poor,” the Opposition MP points out.

“In March 2021, County Medical Officers were on the national media warning against complacency in the workplace, as health authorities had noticed that workplaces were contributing to COVID-19 clusters in Trinidad and Tobago,” he added.

Member of Parliament for Pointe-a-Pierre, Dr David Lee MP. (Image courtesy Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago)

The Pointe-a-Pierre MP says the country must be proactive in dealing with COVID-19 in the workplace.

“As a matter of fact, this is in keeping with international standards as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has called for ‘countries to put in place sound and resilient occupational safety and health (OSH) systems that would minimize the risks for everyone in the world of work in the event of future health emergencies’,” he notes.

MP Lee points to the recent news that an offshore worker was discovered to be COVID-19 positive before boarding a platform, as a result of the testing measures set up by the relevant energy company.

“This is a prime example of why the Government must ensure that proper protocols are in place at all workplaces, throughout all industries, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when the economy re-opens,” he said.

He added: “Many energy companies must be applauded for the stringent protocols they have implemented in the past months to protect their staff and the wider public, however, more is required by other industries within our nation.”

The Opposition MP warns of more uncertainty or even a catastrophic outcome, if Government fails to ensure robust measures are in place to stymie the spread of COVID-19 when employees return to the workplace.

“If we are to successfully curtail this spread and eliminate the possibilities of a further wave we need to take innovative action within every avenue where there is human interaction such as the workplace,” he said.