The importance of Occupational Safety and Health in the workplace was the highlight as the Linden Electricity Company Inc (LECI) and the Linmine Secretariat hosted the annual workshop at the Watooka Complex at Mackenzie, Linden on Thursday.For Occupational Safety and Health Month with theme ‘Workplace Stress: A Collective Challenge’, the workshop saw workers from various organisations, including the LECI, Linmine Secretariat, Linden Hospital Complex (LHC) participating.During the feature address, Minister of Social Protection Volda Lawrence highlighted various issues affecting employees in the general workplace. The minister alluded to the need for much more to be done in the 21st century in eliminating these issues, which lead to negative impacts on individuals as well as work output.“We are cognizant of the challenges that are presented on a daily basis in our working environment. Our work force is exposed to conditions and hazards which may be biologically, chemical, environmental… and for which safeguard and preventative measures must be in place…”, she stated.In examining some causes of workplace stress, Lawrence said while each workplace is unique, there are various commonalities, as she pointed to the fact that each workplace there are people from different backgrounds who share a particular space. She said it is important that there are mechanisms in place to address the emotional needs and issues, in realising that different individuals will bring certain differences to the working environment.In the absence of such mechanisms, she noted that this may lead to workers becoming risk factors to their environments. Issues such as gender bias are cause for concern since more women are entering the workforce. Not only is it a concern for women, but she related that both men and women are affected. “The gender bias in some work places are so ripe that it interferes with the smooth running of the company or institution,” the minister noted.Furthermore, she indicated that too many have fallen prey to this scourge and are forced to quit or suffer in silence, noting that the prevalence of sexual harassment needs to be addressed. Minister Lawrence said relevant policies and Legislation need to be put in place so that complainants can make reports and perpetrators penalised accordingly.Single-parent related issues, the minister mentioned, can also lead to stress in the working environment, as she painted various scenarios. Noting that coping with on-the-job demands and family life may become hectic, the minister said we cannot turn a blind eye to the challenges faced by single-parents. As such, she noted that heightened awareness through workshops and other means is necessary, since all must be involved to ensure workplace stress is kept at a minimum. In her presentation, Dr Green-Braithwhaite engaged the attendees on types of stress, factors which may lead to it, its effects, including physical and mental, as well as how it can be dealt with.During an interactive session, attendees were also involved in sharing issues affecting them at the workplace. A number of employees were also awarded tokens of appreciation for years of hard work and dedication to promoting workplace health and safety.