Wednesday 26 February, 2020

OSHA rules Diego Martin North Secondary School safe

A report from the Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA) has not found evidence to corroborate health concerns expressed by teachers at the Diego Martin North Secondary School who have refused to work.

OSHA was invited to visit the school and carry out an investigation on November 29, 2019, after teachers wrote the Principal stating that their health and safety were compromised and they could not work under such conditions.

The teachers walked off the job a week prior, after a rock was thrown at a window in the teachers’ staffroom.

This incident resulted in two stakeholder meetings being held on November 26 and 28, 2019  involving representatives of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teacher Association (TTUTA), the Parent Teachers Association (PTA), Trinidad & Tobago Police Service (TTPS), Student Support Service Division (SSSD) and School Supervision Division of the  Ministry of Education. 

Stakeholders at the meeting determined that the issues at the school were of a disciplinary nature and recommended that teachers return to the classroom to deliver the curriculum.

The Ministry has noted with concern what is says seems to be a developing pattern where teachers are refusing to work citing health and safety concerns.

The Ministry’s Legal Department is in the process of preparing a legal opinion on this matter.

Education Minister Anthony Garcia said there is a process that must be followed when raising health and safety concerns.

“There is a procedure under the Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA) Act that outlines the steps which must be taken when teachers feel their health and safety is threatened. The OSHA Act outlines six steps an employee must observe if there are reasons to believe there is imminent danger or unusual circumstances that be hazardous to his/her life or health.”  

Meanwhile, the Ministry continues to implement measures to address safety and security concerns at the school. Earlier this week, approval was granted for the National Maintenance Training and Security Company (MTS) to secure a contractor to construct a perimeter fence install security lights and undertake other repairs, which were highlighted by the teaching staff.

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