I suppose the name Harley English may be written on several pieces of paper in the coming weeks, this would be only if there is an Inquiry to determine why this 21 year old lost his right wrist. Of course many Guyanese do not know him or his name, save maybe those in his immediate community or those of us who were shocked to read of how he lost his wrist in the Kaieteur News edition of Wednesday 14th March, 2017.
It happened that young Harley English was asked by the Prison Authorities, to make some hollow concrete block, for the prisons. The article did not state whether or not this young man was supervised while making the blocks, nor did it state if he had training in the safe and effective use and care of the machine he was allowed to use to make the blocks. However as faith would have it the machine developed a problem, which the young man felt he was capable of fixing.
In a normal industrial situation Harley English would have been compensated by his employer and be given disability benefits from the National Insurance Scheme. In this instance though the young man was WORKING under instructions, the situation is not what one would consider normal industrial. He was a custodian of the state, and should have been up to Saturday 18th March, four days after losing his wrist. Not sure if anyone has moved to ensure that he is removed from that environment.
The fact that Harley English lost his right wrist while following instructions to do work would not allow him to benefit from the fine print within the Master-Servant contract under which employees operate in industry, nor shall he be eligible for benefits from the National Insurance Scheme or any similar mechanism under which workers are covered against accidents such as the one that occurred within the Lusignan Prison Walls this week.
The article by which I learnt of this accident, if accurate, reveals at least two administrative lapses which should be laid at the door of the Prison Authorities and especially the Administration of the Lusignan Prison.
One is that it seems that the inmate was not supervised. The other point is that it is clear that he was not adequately instructed in the rudiments of safety with respect to that machine. In my opinion parts of any machine can be converted to weapons, in a prison environment. Hence once a machine is being used by a prisoner, he must be supervised, since to do otherwise is to introduce a security risk element to others.
If the young man was trained in the safe use and maintenance of that machine he would have been aware of the possible danger of putting his hand where he put his. Whatever happens from now onwards, will not change the fact that this man for the rest of this natural life would not have the use of his right hand. In other words he is now considered a person with a disability, or should I say crippled.
Yes his actions alongside the machine were unsafe, but should he be the one to carry the burden of that accident? I say no. Consider what would have been the result if he had refused to make those blocks. If there was supervision, then when the machine developed a problem, someone else would have taken the responsibility to have it fixed. When he was incarcerated his safety, became the responsibility of the state, hence should now be held responsible for his disfigurement.
It is a norm for convicted persons to work, if fit, while in prison. Such work affords them an opportunity to earn, while in prison, and also to be equipped with a skill which can be utilised after leaving prison. The latter is all a part of the more important role of the prison system which is to realise the rehabilitation of inmates while in custody. Such rehabilitation is aimed at producing socially worthwhile individuals, who would through accepted means be able to among other things earn a living, and be socially comfortable with the rest of society. In effect the prison authorities are there to afford convicts an opportunity to be trained for a better role in society.
Thus, my question again. Was Harley English under training/supervision or did the Prison Authorities feel he had developed the competencies to use the Block Making Machine? The event which prompted this question definitely brings to the fore the fact that the Prisons System of Guyana continues to fail in the execution of its mandate of rehabilitation. This accident occurred in prison, and similar to an accident occurring within an industrial environment where compensation would be considered, one can logically conclude that the Guyana Prison Service in this instance owes this 21 year old man compensation and should make efforts to do so without failure.
Aug 18, 2017By Sean Devers The Warriors could not want better support. The atmosphere was absolutely fantastic at Providence last night as a sold out crowd, only second in size to Trinidad, danced and waved...
Aug 18, 2017
Aug 18, 2017
Aug 18, 2017
Aug 18, 2017
Aug 18, 2017
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.