JIS News

The Jamaica Association of Explosives Engineering Professionals (JAEEP), is committed to promoting the safety, security and the controlled use of explosives, while representing the interests of explosives engineers across the island.
An explosive engineer is a certified professional or practitioner, who has been trained and has mastered the art of using commercial explosives for rock blasting or demolition of structures.
“This profession is an essential component of the construction and mining sectors as it makes way for buildings, infrastructure and the extracting of minerals from the ground,” says President of JAEEP, Lenox Gordon.
He tells JIS News, that among the objectives of the organisation are: to facilitate and encourage the highest level of competence, character and integrity among its members; to encourage sound financial, business and management practices among members, to ensure profitability in their pursuits; to promote the enactment of the laws and the repeal or modification of existing laws in the interest of independent explosives engineering professionals; and to make representation on behalf of members on both the local and international levels, including the relevant Government agencies.
According to Mr. Gordon, the need for the two-year old association arose a few years ago “when ammonia nitrate was scarce and I needed signatures from registered blasters to make representation to the relevant Government agencies.”
“It was a tedious task,” he recalls, “as persons were reluctant even though they too were affected by the shortage. It was through consultation with Laurence Neufville, who was then the Chief Inspector of Mines that this task was achieved, and we were able to get audience with the Government agencies.”
The association was officially registered on August 15, 2006, however, some members have been meeting and formulating from as early as 2004. JAEEP has 48 members across the island and in addition to himself, the founding members are: Roy Nicholson, Laurence Neufville, Oral Rainford, Albert Robinson, the late Robert Hartley.
He informs that the initiatives that have been implemented thus far by the association have been “tremendous” and seek to foster growth and development within the organisation and among its members.
These initiatives, he tells JIS News, include JAEEP’s first workshop, which was held last year at the Jamaica Conference Centre, in an effort to give users of explosives a chance to interact with members of the public and get tips on the proper steps to be taken in addressing some of the fears expressed.
Additionally, a two-day conference of Caribbean blasters was held “in which we incorporated a workshop and a field demonstration.it was the first of its kind and we intend to build on it and in the future form a Caribbean Blasters Association,” he says.
Furthermore, Mr. Gordon notes, the association has also been able to get audience with the relevant Government members and agencies to present the concerns and plans for the sector. “This will set the wheels in motion for a more structured development,” he points out.
He informs that JAEEP also became affiliated to the International Society of Explosives Engineers (ISEE) in January 2008, adding that this will aid immensely in the development of its members through continuous sponsored trainings.
The ISEE was formed in 1974 as a professional society dedicated to promoting the safety, security and the controlled use of explosives in mining, quarrying, construction, manufacturing, demolition, aerospace, forestry, avalanche control, art, automotives, special effects, exploration, seismology, agriculture, law enforcement, and many other peaceful uses of explosives.
According to Mr. Gordon, “JAEEP members, some of whom have continuously attended the annual conferences put on by the ISEE, discussed and felt that their wealth of knowledge and experience would enhance our association. It was on this basis that we contacted them (ISEE) and they readily agreed to establish a formal relationship with us after we satisfied their prerequisites,” noting that the membership was voluntary.
The benefits derived from being members of the ISEE include training, recognition, networking and international exposure.
The President points out that the JAEEP seeks to advance the interests of its members through various avenues. These include: public fora to discuss the professional use of explosives in mining and construction; letters to the media; making representation to Government for formal recognition; and securing licence to import explosives on a more consistent and cheaper basis for members.
To become a member of the JAEEP, one has to be trained in the use and handling of explosives or has interest in pursuing same. There are three categories of membership – full membership, where the member must be trained and licensed; associate membership for those who have interest in the explosives industry and; student membership.
Among the organisation’s key stakeholders are the Ministry of Transport and Works; Mines and Geology Division; Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF); the Incorporated Masterbuilders Association; and explosives distributors.
Mr. Gordon says that while the level of collaboration with most of the groups has been tremendous, there is need for greater cooperation from bodies such as the JCF, especially with the high incidence in the use of dynamites in the fishing industry and the devastating effect of the activity on the environment.
He notes that while the association has “now gone a notch up,” in ensuring greater safety in blasting operations, persons should not hesitate to contact the relevant authorities if they suspect that explosives are used improperly.
These authorities include: the Mines and Geology Division; the JAEEP office at 33 Brunswick Avenue, Spanish Town; or the nearest police station.
Turning to the future of the organisation, Mr. Gordon tells JIS News that the plans on the drawing board include: certification of JAEEP members to ISEE standards; obtaining blasters licences from the Government of Jamaica for members without such documents; continued training of members; establishing formal association with the HEART Trust/NTA, University of Technology (UTech) and other training institutions, to provide training and certification of members; fundraising activities; and participation in National Minerals Week, which will be held in Kingston next February.