The Safety & Health at Work Act (SHaW Act) 2005

Purpose: to make provisions for:

  1. Securing the health, safety and welfare of persons at work;
  2. Protecting other persons against risks to health and safety in connection with the activities of persons at work;
  3. Controlling certain emissions into the environment;
  4. To consolidate the law relating to health safety and welfare in the work place.

The SHaW Act covers all workplaces with the exception of a private household where persons work or are employed only in domestic service, the Police Force, Barbados Defence Force or certain work carried out in a harbour or wet dock. The SHaW Act replaces the Factories Act Cap 347.

The SHaW Act stipulates the responsibilities of the Employer:

  1. To ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees. This includes providing:
    • Competent fellow employees;
    • Safe plant and equipment;
    • A safe system of work with effective supervision;
    • A safe place of work ensuring that the workplace, work spaces and procedures meet prescribed ergonomic standards and adequate facilities;
    • A safe means of access and egress to every place which requires a person to work and that this access remains safe;
    • Risk assessments prior to carrying out work or putting into use any equipment or substance and reviewing these assessments where there has been any material change;
    • Direction, notices, information and instructions or training to all employees with special needs and ensuring that the communication is accessible;
  2. To prepare a statement of general policy with regards to workplace, safety, health and welfare and to review this statement as often as required. Where 10 or more persons are employed this policy statement must be in writing.
  3. The Act stipulates that Employers consult with employees on the development of measures to promote safety and health in the workplace.  It also mandates the creation of a Health and Safety Committee for businesses with twenty-five (25) or more employees or the appointment of safety delegates where the workforce is less than twenty-five (25).
  4. The legislation makes special provision for the safety of female employees who are pregnant or nursing.  It stipulates that the Employer adapt the working conditions of the employee to minimise exposure to chemicals or working conditions which may be dangerous to the employee’s health or the health of the unborn child.  In the absence of this, the employee should be assigned alternative work without prejudice to her substantive job.
  5. It is also the duty of every Employer to ensure that in the workplace as far as reasonably practicable, persons not in his employment are not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

Non-compliance by an Employer may result in prosecution and penalties include payment of a fine and/or imprisonment.

The SHaW Act stipulates the responsibilities of Employees:

  1. With respect to safety and health issues, Employees have a duty of care to their Employer to use reasonable skill and care in the execution of their job.
  2. An Employee must take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work.
  3. An Employee is required to correctly use the personal protective clothing or devices provided for their use.

Non-compliance by an Employee can result in payment of a fine and/or imprisonment.

The Accident and Occupational Diseases (Notification) Act (Cap. 338).

Purpose: To provide for the notification of accidents and occupational diseases.

Key Features:

  1. This Act stipulates that a book be kept by the Employer for the recording of accidents.
  2. A Notice of Accident or Dangerous Occurrence Form is to be sent to the Chief Labour Officer notifying him of an accident at work, if the accident causes loss of life, causes a worker to be away from work for more than three (3) days or where the disablement subsequently results in death.
  3. A medical practitioner attending a patient whom he believes to be suffering from any occupational disease contracted in the course of employment is required to send a notification letter to the Chief Labour Officer stating the name and address of both the Employer and the Employee and the disease from which in the opinion of the medical practitioner the patient is suffering.
  4. A Notice of Accident or Dangerous Occurrence Form is to be sent to the Chief Labour Officer where an Employer has reasonable grounds for believing that a case of occupational disease has occurred among workers employed.

The Notice of Accident or Dangerous Occurrence form is available on the Barbados Labour Department website.