OSH Matters

Growing interest in Occupational Safety and Health


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Safety and security, though interrelated, are two different subjects that are often ignored until a crisis occurs. At this point, it might be too late as persons may fall prey to robbery, rape, assault, sickness or even death. Since the occurrence of the hallmark terrorism act of September 11th, 2001 on the World Trade Centre, there has been a heightened awareness of safety and security. Security is a broad topic, and covers a range of areas such as company assets, the property itself, employees’ and customers’ personal belongings and valuables, life, personal and job security (Belilos, 2001). For the purpose of this blog, self or personal security in the workplace will be discussed.

Since the bombing of the towers in New York, the presence of increased security was quite evident in many countries. The impact of the loss of thousands of lives not only caused governments from many countries to implement new and tighten existing measures, but management from organizations also responded. This however was not transcended in the Caribbean, more specifically our twin island republic, Trinidad & Tobago. Many businesses in this country are guilty of not taking responsibility for employees’ and customers’ personal belongings and valuables. This is can be seen through disclaimers in car parks such as our very own UWI, and in more populated places like Trincity Mall and Movie Towne.  Employees and customers alike must feel a sense of protection while on the job site. This is necessary not only for improved efficiency and productivity, but for employees and customers to feel a sense of personal security and protection for their belongings and most importantly their lives. It is therefore left up to management to provide this sense of protection for their workers by ensuring that proper security measures and policies are implemented to avoid any possible loss of life or belongings.

Let us look at UWI, St. Augustine campus again. The presence of physical external crimes such as robberies and break-ins do occur as in the cases of students’ cars being stolen despite the presence of security on the campus. There have also been reported cases of rape of students by non- UWI members who had free access to the campus. What impact have these events had on the university? Well organizations who are not prepared to prevent such occurrences from happening suffer badly as some employees tend to leave and some customers carry there purchase elsewhere. In this case, the customers, us students, enrolled in other tertiary level institutions despite the reputability of UWI, which provided a safer environment to study.

 In response to these physical security hazards, a number of mitigation strategies have been identified. First and foremost is the employment and training of suitably qualified security personnel. Although there are security guards present, that does not necessarily mean that they are aligned with the objectives of the campus, i.e. the security of staff and students. Secondly, operational policies regarding the security of public areas need to be undertaken by management. Security officers should be strategically situated on the compound round the clock to ensure worker’s and students’ safety. In so doing, theft, vandalism or physical harm/ injury can be minimized as well as the presence of presence of “shady characters” and criminals. This can be aided by effective supervision and control procedures through the use of burglar alarms and closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, in order to have proper coverage of all daily activities that occur on and off campus. Placement of barriers and a ticketing system for tracking and regulating the access of cars in and out of the compound should be implemented whereby any car entering the campus should receive a signed and dated slip from the security guard at that access point, which must be presented to the security guard upon exiting. Should management ignore these preventative measures, the organization runs the risk of being held accountable and further tarnishing the image of this prestigious university.

In looking at safety, we also use the university as our case study. It is the duty of management to ensure the safety of staff and students in areas such as the university’s structure, installations and fixtures such as electrical and air-conditioning, as well as public work areas such as classrooms, bathroom facilities and safety of furniture and equipment. To add to this, the safety from physical, chemical, electrical ergonomic, biological and psychological hazards are also of paramount importance. For physical hazards in the UWI setting we looked at slip, trip and fall, fire and natural disasters. For the latter which may present themselves unexpectedly, evacuation routes, alarms and sound drill and muster points must be in place. Workers and students both need to be assured that if such occurs, there are measures in place to ensure their safety while on campus. It is always best therefore for management to have proper guidelines for employees and students to follow for these types of events. Implementation of fire alarms and provision of proper fire extinguishing gear in vital areas that are easily accessible. Clearly labelled and easily identifiable evacuation routes to a muster point should be created and given awareness to new members and training through regular drills.


  • Belilos, Claire. “Safety and Security in the Workplace, CHIC Hospitality Consulting Services.” Safety and Security in the Workplace. 2001. Accessed October 20, 2015. http://www.easytraining.com/safety.htm.



  1. Your topic is one with a lot of potential, but deeper and wider evaluation and commentary is called for. What aspects should be addressed? To what extent are these aspects satisfied in practice, and where is the institution falling short? It was good to see some general areas for OSH improvement being noted in your article. Given your detailed analysis done in support of this article, the article should include your specific recommendations in order to make a positive change through your article.


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