Department of the Public Service addresses workplace challenges
Tuesday, September 3, 2019
by Miguel Mauricette, Ministry of Finance

In recent times, public and private sectors have been faced with the issue of poor indoor air quality and mold.

Exposure to poor indoor air quality can cause short-term eye, nose and throat irritation as well as headaches, dizziness and fatigue. Long term, poor air quality can trigger the effects of asthma and lead to respiratory disease and more serious ailments.

To this end, the Government of Saint Lucia is seeking creative and new interventions to remedy such challenges in the workplace.

“Over the last few years, we’ve had a prevalence of occupational health and safety issues affecting many of our government agencies,” said the Assistant Permanent Secretary in the Department of the Public Service, Augusta Duval-Toussaint. “In order to mitigate these issues we have implemented preventative maintenance measures which include bi-annual deep cleaning, quarterly servicing of the air conditioning units, and the proper storage of household chemicals.

“We also encourage officers to take personal responsibility for their office spaces. We are suggesting that they open windows occasionally to aid ventilation, and avoid leaving open food packages or containers in their desks, as this practice creates an environment for the development of mold.”

Facilities Management Officer, Lyndon Barry Georges, agreed that poor air quality creates an environment for mold to thrive. He added that poor construction standards can also lead to mold development.

“We need to make sure on our end that standards are being followed during construction, because as the building gets older, conditions will quickly deteriorate. For example, the Greaham Louisy Building, before we did remedial works had a lot of surface cracks, so rain water was being stored inside the walls. As a result, there was a lot of condensation and moisture retention which is favorable for mold growth.”

The Department of the Public Service has implemented several measures to ensure that staff health, Peggy-Ann Soudatt, Permanent Secretary in the Department of the Public Service, said.

“Among them would be making arrangements for medical consultations and testing for staff,” she said. “For the longer term, we have brought in experts to perform in-depth analyses to find out exactly what is causing the problem in order to come up with a more permanent solution.”

The Government of Saint Lucia continues to work tirelessly as it seeks to eliminate the problem.