IOSH Caribbean Branch ended the year of activities with a branch meeting on Environmental Management, held at the Trinidad Hilton and Conference Centre in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. The evening’s proceedings was chaired by Executive Committee member Ms. Alina Dhanoolal and was called to order at 5:30pm by the Branch Chair, Mr. Jason Maitland. Mr. Maitland, gave a warm welcome to all those in attendance and opened with a safety moment on electrical safety, quite relevant to the season.
The session covered two areas of Environmental Management:
- The Identification of Environmental Aspects and Impacts – presented by Mrs. Shazara Ali Bocas-Ramlogan – HSE Consultant, Senior Assessor (STOW-TT) and Communications Coordinator at the IOSH Caribbean Branch
- Sustainability and Waste Management – presented by Mrs. Joanne Samsundar – QHSE Lead at Massy Energy Fabric Maintenance
The engagement began with networking among the attendees. There was lively discussion between members and non-members present, exchanging thoughts on the benefits of membership, learning opportunities from branch events and the recent success of the branch’s one day Safety and Health Conference held in November.
During the first presentation of the evening, Mrs. Ali Bocas-Ramlogan emphasized the point that the identification of environmental aspects and impacts was indeed one of the most crucial parts of any environmental management system. The analysis of an organization’s aspects and the subsequent revelation of significant aspects, drives the system and forms the cornerstone for the goals and objectives, plans, policies and procedures which comprise the environmental management system. The presenter took the audience through the steps taken to systematically identify and evaluate aspects and impacts. Practical examples in different working environments were utilized to demonstrate methods for identifying aspects such as document review, process flow maps, block diagrams and site inspections. Sample aspect evaluation worksheets were also shared during the discourse to provide attendees with an actual representation of the evaluation of aspects and the methods that can be used to determine which aspects of an organization’s activities, services or products, are in fact significant and which must be addressed by the system.
During the presentation, Mrs. Ali Bocas-Ramlogan also took time to clear up areas where there are misconceptions about key terms such as aspect, impact and activity as well as areas where there may be a lack of clarity around what is expected by the ISO 14001:2015 standard, with respect to aspects identification.
Mrs. Joanne Samsundar followed with her informative presentation on Sustainable Development and Waste Management. Joanne highlighted some of the environmental issues faced today and growing need to address these problems if the future generations are to have any semblance of a clean and safe environment. The presentation covered the very meaning of sustainability and inter-dependence of conservation and sustainable development. The sixteen principles of sustainable development were outlined including economic efficiency, biodiversity protection and the polluter pays principle. The presenter stressed the importance of the need for sustainable development, using many examples to where a lack of concern for sustainability has already led to serious environmental and health impacts, e.g. the depletion of safe fish sources.
Mrs. Samsundar went on to discuss the various kinds of waste and provided clarification on bio-degradable and non-biodegradable matter as well as hazardous and non-hazardous waste. The impacts of waste generation were vividly covered, again with real examples, highlighting the future impacts if the problem is not curbed. Such impacts included changing of regional climates and greenhouse gas accumulation, which will have profound effects on human health and the quality of life. The presentation continued with a discussion on the 5 R’s of waste management – refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle, as actions which can be taken for environmental stewardship. At the end of the presentation, attendees had the opportunity to ask questions on sustainable development and waste management where Mrs. Samsundar took the opportunity to give advice on simple practical steps which can be taken to reduce waste and to improve the way in which waste is handled.
Overall, the event was well received. Attendees commented on the relevance of the material presented and usefulness of the information within their own workplaces. The meeting was brought to a close by the Chair as he thanked the presenters and took the opportunity to wish all those attending a safe and happy Christmas. The evening ended with further networking, giving attendees time to ask the presenters one on one questions and to discuss how the information shared could be implemented in the workplace and at home.