Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 31st 2014 Contents -
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, October 31, 2014
The informal sector or informal
economy plays an important role in
economic development by creating
employment as well as reducing under-
employment. Unlike the formal econo-
my, the informal economy is not regu-
lated or monitored by any form of
government structure, taxed or included
in the gross national product (GNP).
A wide range of skills can be found
within the informal sector and include,
but are not limited to: subsistence farm-
ing, catering, carpentry, car repairs,
street traders, crafts, gardening and
Opportunities are thus provided for
many to earn a living through various
skills and businesses within the informal
Some of the major problems challeng-
ing the informal sector workers are poor
working environments, lack of safety
and health standards and environmental
hazards. Such exposure impairs health,
productivity, general well-being and
quality of life for informal workers and
Often informal workers are not aware
of the hazards which they may
encounter. If they are aware, then the
possibilities as to how to avoid them are
limited owing to the lack of knowledge,
attitudes and behavioural constraints.
A very common element of the infor-
mal sector present in our society is
street traders. This encompasses people
who sell clothing and knickknacks, as
well as food handlers.
These people face much more routine
occupational hazards than the formal
sector. Lifting and hauling of goods to
and from point of sales are a common,
everyday practice. The physical environ-
ment of these workers typically lacks
proper infrastructure, such as clean run-
ning water, toilets and solid-waste
Absence of fire safety equipment,
improper regulation of traffic in some
commercial areas, high concentrations of
air pollutants and bad weather are some
of the physical hazards to which street
traders are also exposed.
Young children who must accompany
their parents to vend on the streets are
much more susceptible to such physical
In the process of earning a daily liv-
ing, these are some of the challenges
which must be faced by street traders,
as unsafe working environments have
become the norm.
Own-account auto mechanics are a
necessity when our vehicles need repair.
They are also challenged by a number of
occupational hazards on a daily basis.
The working environment of auto
mechanics is usually littered with
derelict vehicles, sharp objects, chemi-
cals and various biological hazards likely
to cause morbidity.
Other challenges include working
under vehicles, using heavy machinery
and power tools, poor postures and
There are more than just the physical
hazards. Chemical hazards are also pres-
ent: a common practice is siphoning
petrol into containers and using petrol
as a degreaser. Exposure to heavy metals
such as those in brake fluids, paints,
metal cleaners and solvents, just to
mention a few, has adverse health
effects and can lead to chronic poison-
Other people in these environments
exposed to such substances can also
experience the same. In addition, not
wearing personal protective clothing and
free movement between workplace and
home can also mean transferring poten-
tial harm. Many times perceived knowl-
edge takes precedence over actual and
current knowledge in this field.
Domestic workers in informal employ-
ment are amongst the most vulnerable
group of workers. Often work is done in
private households, without any defined
terms of employment. Duties can
include cleaning, cooking and providing
care to children, the elderly or disabled
Domestic workers face a variety of
workplace hazards when working in
clients homes, including exposure to
harmful cleaning chemicals, verbal and
physical abuse and injuries caused by
lifting and moving clients with limited
Since domestics work in individual
homes, we tend to assume that they
work in a safe environment and thus
don t require the protection afforded to
most other workers.
But the perception of the home as a
"safe haven" obscures the reality that
the home setting can present serious
dangers that can be threatening to
health and safety.
Contrary to popular beliefs, the infor-
mal sector is grounded and continues to
expand. The protection of the health,
safety and welfare of informal sector
workers is a challenge. Often perceived
knowledge or traditional methods are
used, in their limited capacities, to pre-
In addition, low levels of technology,
irregular employment relationships,
improper investment capacity and low
productivity increase the exposure of
informal-sector workers to occupational
accidents and diseases.
The Caribbean Institute for Security
and Public Safety trains people from
companies as well as individuals in a
wide array of programmes on occupa-
tional safety and health and security-
related areas which are delivered by
experts in the field. Contact us at
223-6999, e-mail: info@caribbeansecuri-
tyinstitute.com or www.caribbeansecu-
Calypso history month is October 2014. How many of
us are aware of this? Based on what is on the media,
not many, unfortunately.
What is calypso? It is African Caribbean music from
T&T originating from African and European roots. The
French brought Carnival to T&T. Carnival grew in popular-
ity after the abolition of slavery in 1834. While many be-
lieve the origins of Carnival to be African, the Roaring Lion
begs to differ. He sees it as predominately French.
In 1941 the US Navy arrived in Trinidad and this helped
to popularise Carnival's international appeal. "I was living
contented with my wife, until the soldiers came and
broke up my life," sang Lord Invader.
The calypsonian is storyteller, historian, you name it.
He informs, entertains and educates. He is the voice of
the people. Politicians are afraid of calypsonians. Timing
is everything. Our two most famous exports are the
Mighty Sparrow and Lord Kitchener. Kitchener penned
the three greatest calypsoes for pan---Rainorama, Sym-
phony in G, and Pan in A minor. Advice on love is given
free of charge: "Black up they eye, bruise up they knee,
and they will love you eternally."
On gender issues: "Man centipede bad, woman cen-
tipede more than bad."
Extramarital affairs: "Chinee children calling me daddy,
I black like jet, somebody putting milk in my coffee."
Historical: "It was a glorious and beautiful scenery was
the burning of the Treasury." 1933.
Aspiration: "I never eat a white meat yet."
Calypso is pure Trinidadian and Tobagonian music
which transcends the limitations of society. It can be
used to settle arguments.
Brother Resistance, thanks for your input during this
month. It is noted. Keep the faith. My favourite calypso?
Portrait of Trinidad.
"Trinidad is my land and of it I am proud and glad."
Irecalled that when Parliament was in progress during
the July-August vacation period there was a lot of
whining and complaining from Dr Rowley and other
members of the PNM that their vacation plans were
being interrupted. Most of them made these public
statements in the news. I also noted that the Parlia-
ment staff were unhappy because they were not able to
take any time off.
I must also bring to light that even though the Parlia-
ment is now on a break that there is a Youth Parliament
taking place which I must say is very impressive. Guid-
ing the youths of this country to be future public speak-
ers and even the future parliamentarians is very
There was also a parliament quiz competition that
was open to students which recently took place. All this
was reported in the daily newspapers so people who
want to make statements that this parliament is not
working need to read the news instead of misinforming
the public. Kudos to the hard working parliamentarians
Bsc, Msc, Lecturer, CISPS
OSH CONCERNS FOR INFORMAL SECTOR Proud and glad of T&T
'Parliament' still working
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