Lewis, who spoke at the media launch of Occupational Health and Safety Week 2014 on Monday, said that while current legislation responds to the needs of workers in that regard, not all employers show sensitivity to the issue.
According to him, some workers are still ignorant of their rights and responsibilities regarding the handling of chemicals.
Education, he noted, is the key to “unlocking unhealthy attitudes and unsafe practices and instilling legislative standards.”
Lewis believes that education will also help to share “vital knowledge with the express purpose of effecting change and eliminating risk that can be so costly to the worker, the employer, as well as the state.”
While applauding the labour ministry for its efforts in promoting health and safety, he pointed fingers at some establishments which he said are not upholding safety standards.
“This situation calls for urgent action not only on the part of the companies, but also on the part of our inspectors charged with the responsibility to enforce the legislation,” he said.
However, Lewis said he takes “no delight in casting aspersions on certain employers” and commended those who are genuinely working to improve standards and conditions in the workplace.
He assured that government has recognised the dangers associated with the handling of chemicals at work and has ensured that legislation has “mandated adequate conditions of protection for workers.” He boasted that an entire division comprising eight sections, four subsections, have been engaged to deal with the managing of chemicals.
The labour minister reiterated the dangers associated with the mishandling of harmful chemicals, and noted that the matter “must never be taken lightly.”
“This can be risky business and as such should always occupy high priority for employers,” he said.