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Minister of Labour and Social Security, Derrick Kellier has called on Jamaicans to exercise proper waste disposal habits, noting that current practices were “much too loose” in this area.
Mr. Kellier, who was speaking at the launch of the National Chemical Safety website at the Jamaica Conference Centre today (April 26), noted that often, waste was disposed of without any real consideration given to proper safety practices.
He acknowledged that legislation that now existed had to be harmonized to “give enablement to what needed to be done to guide and protect citizens, and to create guidelines for industries”.
Meanwhile, he noted that the website, which was a project of the Ministries of Labour and Social Security and Health, had been launched at an opportune time, and encouraged the entire nation to make full use of the portal, especially those in the agriculture sector, where a lot of chemicals were utilized.
Urging the Jamaica Agricultural Society to inform its members about the portal, Mr. Kellier said that the awareness campaign on chemical hazards and safety should be extended to involve farmers, as not everyone, particularly in rural communities, had access to computers and the Internet.
Director for the Industrial Safety Division in the Ministry, Robert Chung, who chaired the launch, noted that an estimated 460,000 people died per year due to exposure to various chemicals.
“Exposure to chemicals is not only in the workplace, but also in our homes.common chemicals such as bleach and chemicals in shoes polish can in fact be dangerous and we need to get that information out,” he stated.
Mr. Chung informed that the National Chemical Safety website was a key deliverable of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) project entitled: ‘Developing and Sustaining an Integrated National Programme for Sound Chemicals and Waste Management’.
A project agreement, through a Memorandum of Understanding, was signed between UNITAR and the Ministry of Health, with a national steering committee established to oversee and plan the full scope of the project. UNITA stipulated that a lead agency be assigned to this activity and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security was designated that task.
The Ministry then initiated a multi-sectoral task force to develop the website. This comprised government agencies and non-governmental organisations comprising: the Industrial Safety Division of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security; the Ministries of Finance and Planning, Health, Local Government and Environment; the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management; and the National Solid Waste Management Authority.
Also integral to the development of the website were: the Bureau of Standards, Jamaica; the Planning Institute of Jamaica; National Consumers League; University of the West Indies’ Chemistry Department; Jamaica Customs (Standards and Regulatory Division); Jamaica Agro-Chemicals Association; Jamaica Employer’s Federation; Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association; Joint Confederation of Trade Unions; Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Science and Technology; the Plant Quarantine Unit, Veterinary Division and the Mines and Geology Division (Ministry of Agriculture and Land); Jamaica Association of Safety Professionals; and the Scientific Research Council.
The comprehensive website, which was developed by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), provides a platform and work tool of information for consumers, academia, non-governmental organizations and government departments and agencies. It provides information on legislation; resources for chemical safety data; inter-ministerial coordination; priority areas for national action; national chemical profile; related reports and publications; banned or restricted chemicals; consumer and household commercials. The website also provides a number of links to relevant chemical safety websites.
Jamaica is one of four countries selected to develop and sustain this pilot project for which UNITAR and its partners, the Inter Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals, the Swiss Government and the European Commission, are providing financial and technical assistance to the government of Jamaica.
The objectives of the project are to: formalize an inter-ministerial coordination mechanism; develop a national information exchange mechanism on chemical safety (website); develop a strategy for integrated capacity development (five action plans); implement activities for two of the action plans; prepare a national profile to assess the infrastructure for management of chemicals and waste; and mobilize resources at the national and international levels for sustainability of the programme.