JIS News

Government expenditure to deliver emergency relief to individuals who suffered dislocation caused by disasters during the 2008/09 fiscal year, amounted to some $30.5 million, Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Pearnel Charles, has reported.
Addressing the inaugural staging of the American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica’s (AMCHAM) Health, Safety, Security and Environment Conference, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on Wednesday July 15, held under the theme: ‘Managing Chaos’, Mr. Charles informed that the country recorded over 800 emergencies and disasters resulting from fire, flood and accidents last year.
“These incidents affected over 1,000 families or 4,000 individuals islandwide. During the last financial year, $30.5 million was spent to provide emergency relief in one form or another,” the Minister outlined, pointing out that an additional $16 million was spent during the recovery phases, to stabilise dislocated families, the majority of whom were inner-city residents.
Alluding to the current hurricane season, Mr. Charles cited the many hurricanes, and other emergencies that the country has “lived through,” and underscored the importance of disaster management, stressing that this “must not be taken lightly.”
“As the years go by, we seek to be better prepared to deal with the eventualities of a hurricane and other forms of disaster. A multi-agency strategy is in place to respond to disasters (and) is a deliberate approach to collaborate resources,” he said.
The Minister pointed out that the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has responsibility for co-ordinating the responses of the relevant agencies to national emergencies.
Addressing the conference theme: ‘Managing Chaos’, relative to the workplace, Mr. Charles contended that a healthy, qualified, and motivated workforce was fundamental to the well-being of Jamaica’s economic and social future.
“There is a growing body of evidence, which suggests that improvements in workplace health and safety can be key ingredients to business efficiency and competitiveness. In innovative enterprises, the quality of work, products or services are elements of the same strategy,” the Minister noted.
“Workplace safety and health action should become an integral part of management practices and daily working life at all levels of the business. Our objective should be to link workplace health with relevant enterprise policies, and ensure that it becomes a part of our daily practice,” he added.
The conference was staged by AMCHAM to update the island’s chief executive officers, and human resource, safety, security and environmental professionals on the latest developments in their fields, both locally and regionally. The conference follows one staged in Trinidad and Tobago earlier this year, and was held against the background of the varying health, safety, security and environmental issues Jamaica currently faces.

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