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Conference to Highlight Workers' Safety


Feb. 8, 2008 — Worker safety across the territory will be the focus as the V.I. Labor Department's Division of Occupational Safety and Health teams with the University of the Virgin Island's Community Engagement and Lifelong Learning Center (CELL) to host the third annual Governor's Safety and Health Conference.
"Lots of accidents are highly preventable," said Caroline Simon, CELL marketing manager.
The free conference will be held Feb. 21 and 22 at the Carambola Beach Resort on St. Croix and Feb. 25 through 28 at Marriott Frenchman's Reef on St. Thomas. This is the first time the conference will be held on St. Croix.
In previous years the conference has been well-attended, but the organizers have had trouble getting people in the construction industry to attend, Simon said.
The territory has seen several fatal construction accidents in recent years. Two men died Dec. 27 on St. John when the concrete truck in which they were traveling flipped over on a Virgin Grand Estates road. In 2005, a worker at a concrete-processing plant on St. Thomas died when he became entangled in a piece of equipment. In 2004, a St. John man driving a truck at an East End construction site died when he either fell or jumped out of his truck when it started to tip.
The conference aims to place greater emphasis on the prevention of workplace injury, illness and death while reducing worker-compensation costs. It also serves as an opportunity for members of the public and private sector to learn how to develop effective programs that will make work sites safer and highlight the programs and services available locally.
"Oftentimes we see incidents that are preventable," said Gov. John deJongh Jr., according to a news release issued Thursday. "We want to make sure we provide the education, tools and resources to make our workplaces safer."
The agendas are different on each island, but in general they address topics such as hazard communication, personal protective equipment and mold. On both islands, sessions address issues such as electrical safety and hazard communication. Additionally, training sessions are devoted to the general industry, construction, health care and hospitality industries.
The general-industry sessions help people comply with federal OSHA requirements. The construction session includes instruction in the OSHA Construction Standards. The health-care session provides overview of the practical and latest regulatory measures for the prevention of accidents, incidents or exposures that may cause health impairment, injury, fire or interference with health-care operations. The hospitality session provides practical solutions to common health and safety problems in the hospitality and tourism industry.
Conference seating is limited. For more information or to register, call the UVICELL Center 693-1100 or visit the conference website.
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