GTT employees highlight concerns over mercury spill

first_img…say mercury level alarmingly high in their systemsEmployees attached to the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GTT) are raising concerns over the alarmingly high mercury levels found in their systems, due to a mercury spill in April last at the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC).Employees from both GGMC and GTT were affected by the spill, which caused several workers to seek medical attention.According to the workers, in May last, a colleague complained of feeling unwell, and discovered that his body had an alarming amount of the metal (mercury) only when he visited a private health institution.Another employee stated that after the incident, an email was sent out by the Human Resources Department of GTT, but it failed to explain the severity of the spill and the potential harm that spill can cause to the human body. “There was no indication from management that persons should have testing done to ensure that the metal did not affect those who work in the building. There was one individual who voiced their concerns about the incident with the HR Department, but (the concerns were) quickly dismissed by management, who told the individual that noSections of the GTT building can be seen with the thick black substance (mercury) several months after the spillone else (had) made any complaints, and as such, that person should not raise an alarm amongst other staff”, an employee told the Guyana Times.Recently, the workers noted that after receiving several other complaints from staff members about feeling unwell, six workers were randomly selected and sent for testing at a private laboratory.The blood samples were sent overseas, and when the results were returned, it confirmed that the workers had mercury in their systems.The workers are claiming that the company’s Health & Safety Officer asked that the information be kept secret, so as not to cause panic among their colleagues.Recently, it was reported in sections of the media that the company has been urging its staff to get tested; but this, they claim, “is far from the truth”.“There was no email sent to the employees of the company encouraging them to be tested. There was a meeting held to inform employees with regard to the hazardous material that was spilled”, it was contended.The GTT employees are also contending that they had received no financial assistance from the company in their moment of distress; but it was reported that “through its company’s medical plan, GTT continued to provide assistance to employees”.“The cost of a mercury test is $20,000, the medication is $31,000, and lab tests $39,000. There are persons who are on medical leave, receiving treatment for mercury toxicity, which was paid at their own expense. There was an individual who was hospitalised, and another was fired,” Guyana Times was made to understand.When Guyana Times contacted the company’s Public Relations Specialist, Jasmin Harris, she noted that they are fully aware of the situation and are working along with the Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Social Protection, Department of Labour and Ministry of Natural Recourses to return the situation to normalcy.Harris also noted that an investigation has been launched. (Yanalla Dalrymple)last_img read more

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