OSH Matters

Growing interest in Occupational Safety and Health



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.






Released in 2011, Final Destination 5 is a gruesome horror motion picture that follows the experiences of a group of coworkers who were saved from a horrific accident due to one man’s forewarning. With a runtime of one hour and thirty- two minutes, the show is no stranger to gore, as death is hell bent on seeking its revenge on this group of individuals who have escaped its malevolence once before. This movie trails the journey of these fragile souls as they attempt to escape the clutches of death. As students of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) it has come to our notice that many scenes within the movie have safety and health violations. Therefore, we have decided to focus on the death scenes of these characters and bring to light these infractions and the preventative measures that could have been taken to avoid such tragic losses.

The movie begins with a group of coworkers, driving over a bridge, on their way to a company retreat. Caution signs and men wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) can be seen as construction is under way on the bridge. Suddenly the road cracks and jolts, and the bridge collapses beneath them causing mass loss of lives. However, corrective measures could have been put in place to avoid such a disaster. Careful examination of such large scale construction should have been done to gauge the level of risk on the job, then measures such as closing the path or working during the night when the roads are less busy should have been taken to lessen the risks.

In addition, at the gymnastics centre, it could be seen that there were faulty cooling equipment as a screw from the ceiling fan fell unto the balancing beam, water droplets from the air conditioning unit were falling unto exposed electrical wires, and a fan was placed on the mat where participants were practicing. The fallen screw damaged one of the individuals causing her to knock the powder substance into the fan creating an explosion of dust in the air and eventually leading to the fall and death of the character. On the other hand, had preventative actions been made, such as regular maintenance of heating and cooling equipment and proper placement of materials, the damage done could have been avoided.

Moreover, another death occurred at the spa. The character in question, visited the physical therapist where she performed acupuncture (the art of inserting needles into the body for therapeutic purposes). It is firstly noted that the bed was unstable and the needles were not properly sterilized, as it was simply being wiped unto an alcohol soaked cloth. Secondly, we notice the improper placement of apparatus such as the cellular phone next to the candles, as well as the ash from the incense near the alcohol filled cloth. hhhhhhhIn the scene, the ash of the incense falls unto the alcohol soaked cloth creating a fire, the bed then gives way and the character falls to the floor, in a panic the bottle of alcohol is knocked over and the cellular phone pushed the lit candle unto the substance setting the room a blaze, the character then immediately dies on impact as he smashes into the wall shelves and a statue falls unto him. His life could have been saved had it not been for the improper placement of hazardous materials.

Penultimately, a woman falls to her death after undergoing a simple eye procedure. As observed in the movie, the woman is placed under the machinery and is strapped into her seat to avoid movement. The camera then pans over to a cup of water on the edge of the water dispenser. Due to the vibrations of the water dispenser, the cup falls off the edge unto the electrical socket where the machinery is plugged into. The machinery twitches and begins to overheat which leads to the damaging of the woman’s eye. As she wrestles the machinery and frees herself from the clutches of her chair, she misbalances and falls to her demise. Had preventative measures happened and removed the incorrectly placed cup of water, another life could have been spared.

iiiiiiUltimately, a man working at an industrial factory is seen standing at his job site. A loose tool is then detected near the spinning gear of a large machine. The consistent vibration of the machine shakes the tool until it falls into the gear and is pitched across the room striking the man on his head. Certain precautions such as appropriate placement of tools, and the wearing of PPE could have reduced the damage produced.

Conclusively, it can be said that OSH plays a major role in fighting death. If only the cast of Final Destination 5 had known.