Safe workplace vital: Barker


EMPLOYERS in the private and public sectors are obliged to provide safe work conditions for their staff and clients, says economist Paul Barker.
Barker, the executive director of the Institute of National Affairs, was responding to the public debate on the “no jab, no job” policy relating to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccination.
Some business houses and government departments are enforcing the policy to ensure the work environment is safe for everyone. Those who oppose the policy are organising protests.
Barker said employers had a contractual relationship with their employees, and could impose reasonable conditions of employment.
They may include requirements to be vaccinated if working in high-risk activities where they might contract or transmit the virus to others, including patients or clients.
“If the employer (fails to) make the best effort to safeguard the client, using readily available mechanisms (notably vaccines), they could potentially be sued if the staff member or client became sick, or worse,” Barker said.
“Employers are seeking to safeguard themselves and their reputation, by creating a safe and healthy working environment.”
The debates is on whether the imposition of mandatory vaccination is fair, constitutional, or it breaches human rights.
“When it comes to health matters, and especially pandemics, governments have regularly imposed strong conditions, from quarantine, to travel restrictions and even house lockdowns or curfews, or requirements to vaccinate against yellow fever, cholera or the plague, for example.
“This may impose a frustrating curb on freedoms for some, but it’s intended to safeguard the health and human rights of the whole community.
“Clearly, voluntary vaccinating is best, but some high risk jobs, for example for some health workers, employees for various roles in the food industry or frontline workers in stores and working together in relatively close proximity would be expected to be conducted by vaccinated persons. The risks are too high on others, and the closure of the entire operation in the case of an outbreak of the disease would be too great for the firm and its employees and their families.”
Barker suggests that proper awareness should be done by the Government, working with the churches, to explain the nature of the virus and vaccines in simple language, so that there is better public understanding, greater trust and less fear of the vaccine and other needed treatments.