The Caribbean Branch kicked off the year with its first branch meeting on Friday 31st January 2020. The theme of the meeting was ‘Electrical Safety’ and was held at the Cara Suites Hotel and Conference Centre in Claxton Bay, Trinidad. Two employees from the Government Electrical Inspectorate facilitated the presentation - Mr. Kevin Baboolal (Deputy Chief Electrical Inspector) and Mr. Harris Poonwassie (Electrical Inspector I). The event was well attended by OSH practitioners due to the nature of the topic and the level of risk associated with electricity as a workplace hazard. There was a high level of interest from both members and non-members.
Our Chair, Jason Maitland encouraged attendees to network with each other before the formal start of the meeting. He challenged each person to break the ice, chat with each other and be able to say at least one thing about another person at their table at the end of the networking time. At the end of the networking session, random persons were asked to talk about what they learned about participants at their table. It was certainly an effective method of getting everyone to learn more about each other’s background and work experience.
The formal part of the meeting began at approximately 6:00pm. Mr. Baboolal conducted the presentations and was supported by Mr. Poonwassie. The first presentation, provided an introduction to the Government Electrical Inspectorate in Trinidad and Tobago. Their primary mandate involves the safety certification of the electrical systems of buildings to either receive a new electrical supply from the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) or to continue having a supply from T&TEC. The presentation also provided an ample overview of the wide range of functions of the Inspectorate. These are:
- Administrative – receiving applications for inspections, maintaining records of all electrical installations in T&T, assigning inspectors
- Inspections – conducting inspections for all new/ rewired/ altered domestic, commercial and industrial installations, conducts routine ‘condition inspections’, annual inspections, etc.
- Advisory Services – providing information on inspection matters, National Technical Committee – Electrical Codes, presentations and interfacing with T&TEC on defects with electrical installations
- Fire and Accident Investigations - professional investigations and provision of expert testimony in court as required
- Regulatory Functions – determination/ review of regulations, standards and codes, evaluation of wireman applicants, etc.
The presentation went on to provide information on the process for applying for inspections, the requirements for inspections such as the fees and the presence of the wireman, as well as the importance of having such inspections conducted.
During the presentation, Mr. Baboolal took questions from the audience. Participants utilized the opportunity to get clarification on a variety of issues such as the methods of applying for inspections, frequency of inspections, requirements for inspections following building renovations and updates and certification of wireman among other topics.
His second presentation covered electrical safety in the home and highlighted common unsafe acts in seen in many households. This presentation also provided some useful safety tips for homeowners such as information on how to recognize a licensed wireman, product standardization markings and general guidelines to be followed when interacting with electrical equipment in the home. All of the guidelines can be transferred and applied to the workplace.
Following the presentations, our Branch Chair thanked the presenters for their support and for taking the time to educate the group on Electrical Safety. Our Treasurer, Ria Sooknarine presented them with tokens of appreciation.
The meeting was also open to non-members and many of those in attendance, expressed great interest in joining and supporting the branch. Following the formal proceedings, time was allotted for further discussions and networking.