Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 30th 2013 Contents A6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, April 30, 2013
In the Caribbean and western mid-
Atlantic, tens of thousands of lives are at
risk and millions of dollars are at stake if
a tsunami strikes and therefore all com-
munities must implement more efficient
So says Christa von Hillebrandt Andrade,
manager of the US national weather service
Caribbean tsunami warning programme,
who spoke yesterday at the eighth session
of the Inter-Governmental Oceanographic
Commission (IOC) at Capital Plaza, Port-
"It is widely recognised it takes a village
to raise a child. Well, it takes a community
to get tsunami-ready. Over the past years
Unesco IOC has successfully provided a
framework where policy-makers, emergency
and disaster managers, educators and
researchers and warning and monitoring
experts have been able to work together to
advance tsunami readiness in the region,"
Von Hillebrandt Andrade said.
She also spoke in her capacity as chairman
of the inter-governmental co-ordination
group for tsunami and other coastal hazards
warning system for the Caribbean and adja-
cent regions (ICG CARIBE).
The three-day commission is expected
to cover a hosts of topics, including:
• Consolidation and further strengthening
of geophysical and oceanographic moni-
• Improvement of tsunami services in
the region with enhanced and harmonised
tsunami alert products that would provide
better decision support services.
• Further promotion of tsunami hazard
assessment and mapping, considering also
non-seismic sources like landslides and vol-
• Further quantification of the tsunami
risk and identification of appropriate mit-
igation strategies within the risk-reduction
• Sustainable management and opera-
The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Man-
agement (ODPM) yesterday presented a Public Warn-
ing and Information System (PWIS) to the National
Security Council aimed at creating further awareness
when natural disasters strike.
The ODPM's chairman Dr Stephen Ramroop yes-
terday warned T&T could "very likely" be hit by a
He, however, did not say when that could be expect-
ed. Ramroop said in putting together the PWIS, his
team met with different ministers to implement more
effective measures, including better flood management
and how to access shelters quickly.
"What the municipalities have to do is go to the
areas that are frequently impacted by flood, make
sure the people have their sandbags so that even before
the warning signs are coming up you are ready," Ram-
He was fielding questions from members of the
media at the eight session of the Inter-governmental
Oceanographic Commission (IOC) at Capital Plaza,
If a warning has to sent to people to evacuate a
certain area Ramroop said efforts were being made
to incorporate technology so that SMS messages could
be sent to those people only.
"And while we are doing that we will send messages
to the police, army and coast guard," Ramroop added.
In the event of tsunami, Ramroop said it was impor-
tant to use satellite images which show particular
wave heights to come up with a "forecasting."
He added: "This is something that could happen
using statistical analysis that is basically what early
warning systems try to do.
"No matter how advanced are your early warning
systems and you might get the best messages coming
in you must get that to the people in the villages and
those living particularily near the sea."
Saying it was integral all agencies played their parts,
Ramroop recommended that community centres be
built on high ground.
In some cases of flooding Ramroop said, that was
caused by people deliberately blocking drains with
gravel as they constructed their homes.
"That is a serious problem and the Government
can't keep clearing the drains that people are blocking
up," Ramroop added.
On the issue of fires he said some were caused nat-
urally but many were deliberately set due to slash-
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Manager, US National
(Mayaguez, Puerto Rico,
USA) Christa von
Hillebrandt and CEO,
Office of Disaster
Management T&T, Dr
Stephen Ramroop, chat
after the formal opening
of the eight session of the
ordination Group for the
Tsunami and other Costal
Hazards Warning System
for the Caribbean and
Adjacent Regions at the
Capital Plaza, Port-of-
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
Call for better tsunami warning systems
Inadequate risk assessments and lack
of safe systems in the workplace are caus-
es of more than 70 per cent of accidents
in the manufacturing sector.
Minister of Labour and Small and Micro
Enterprises Errol McLeod said for the last
five years 30 per cent of accidents reported
to the Occupational Safety and Health
Agency involved people employed in man-
Delivering the opening address yesterday
at the launch of this year's National Occu-
pational Safety and Health Week (April
28-May 4), McLeod said:
"Accident investigations conducted by
the agency revealed that inadequate risk
assessments and failure to implement safe
systems of work were contributors in more
than 70 per cent of the accidents that
involved these persons."
The launch was held yesterday at the
Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain.
Asked if any measures would be taken
to address the matter, McLeod said: "When
investigations are done and if people are
culpable and found to have contributed,
consciously and deliberately to unsafe acts
and so on, then certainly the law will take
Other measures, he said, included train-
ing, warning and "the kind of programmes
that would lift people's consciousness."
He said health and safety were a "respon-
sibility for everyone involved in the
McLeod also said the ministry would
work with the American Chamber of Com-
merce (AmCham) to host the Excellence
in Health, Safety and Environment Awards,
open to all organisations in T&T.
This year's event focuses on occupational
diseases, which according to International
Labour Organisation's (ILO) regional senior
specialist, skills and employability Dr Has-
san Ndahi, accounted for approximately
2.02 million work-related deaths annually.
He added: "The ILO estimates that 160
million cases of non-fatal work-related
diseases occur annually."
Not enough safe systems in workplace, says McLeod
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