Jamaicans Urged to Guard Against Heat Stress

The Ministry of Health is advising Jamaicans to take precautions against heat stress as the country continues to experience high temperatures.Heat stress occurs when the body becomes dehydrated and is unable to cool itself enough to maintain a healthy temperature. If left untreated, this can lead to heatstroke, which is a life-threatening medical emergency.Symptoms include tiredness and lethargy, headache, dizziness, feeling faint, nausea, vomiting, altered mental state, muscle cramps, feeling thirsty and urinating less often.Director of the Emergency Disaster Management and Social Services Branch in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr. Nichole Dawkins Wright, said that the high temperatures combined with high humidity can cause heat-related illnesses.“Some persons are more susceptible to these high temperatures. These persons include the elderly, persons who are overweight or obese, infants, children younger than six years of age and persons with chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes,” she noted.She is encouraging persons to limit sun exposure, particularly during the middle of the day; plan outdoor activities for the morning and evening hours, when the sun’s rays are less intense; and wear loose-fitting clothing and hats to protect the face.Dr. Dawkins Wright said persons should stay hydrated by drinking more fluids, and limit or avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and alcohol.“Drink water liberally, more water than you normally would, particularly during and after vigorous activities. When exercising, drink fluids regularly at least every 15 minutes. Wear light-coloured clothing, clothing that is made out of fabric that’s breathable, lightweight. Stay indoors. Avoid crowded areas [if possible] and ensure your homes and environments are well ventilated,” she said.She said children and the elderly should not be left in hot cars, and a doctor should be consulted if there are signs of confusion, dizziness, nausea, muscle swelling, heart disturbances, or a headache.Director of Nutrition Services in the Ministry, Dr. Charmaine Edwards, said that persons should ensure that they hydrate, even as they try to stay cool.“Fans and air-conditioning (AC) units do keep you cool but in doing that they also dehydrate you. So you will, in fact, have to replace the fluids. Remember (when) you are perspiring, the water is being lost and the fan is just blowing it away and giving you the cooling effect. So you will still have to replace the fluid that is being lost,” she pointed out.Dr. Edwards noted that although everyone is affected by the heat, specific groups, such as the elderly, tend to be more vulnerable.“Just by being elderly they are already at risk, because there have been changes in how the body metabolises… so we want to pay attention to the elderly. Certainly, they need to be getting in at least six glasses of water per day,” she said.She noted that younger children also need to be kept hydrated.The Met Office has advised that the sweltering heat, which has seen temperatures soar to record levels, is associated with a hot spell between June and August. Story Highlights The Ministry of Health is advising Jamaicans to take precautions against heat stress as the country continues to experience high temperatures. Heat stress occurs when the body becomes dehydrated and is unable to cool itself enough to maintain a healthy temperature. If left untreated, this can lead to heatstroke, which is a life-threatening medical emergency. Symptoms include tiredness and lethargy, headache, dizziness, feeling faint, nausea, vomiting, altered mental state, muscle cramps, feeling thirsty and urinating less often. read more

Minister Grange Tables Sexual Harassment Bill

Story Highlights As stated in the Memorandum of Objects and Reasons, the legislation is necessary to address concerns about sexual harassment that is employment-related, occurring in institutions, or arising in the landlord and tenant relationship. The Sexual Harassment Bill was tabled in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (July 9) by Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange.As stated in the Memorandum of Objects and Reasons, the legislation is necessary to address concerns about sexual harassment that is employment-related, occurring in institutions, or arising in the landlord and tenant relationship.The Bill outlines the types of conduct that constitute sexual harassment and prohibits certain related conduct.It further makes provisions for the making of complaints by persons who are aggrieved by sexual harassment. These complaints are to be heard by the newly created Sexual Harassment Tribunal.The Bill is to be referred to a Joint Select Committee shortly. The Bill outlines the types of conduct that constitute sexual harassment and prohibits certain related conduct. The Sexual Harassment Bill was tabled in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (July 9) by Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange. read more

Increasing Employee Engagement Crucial – JBDC

Story Highlights “There is strong statistical correlation between engagement and productivity. Where persons scored highly on the productivity scale, they were also highly engaged and vice versa,” he said at a recent Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank. Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) Senior Project Officer for Data Analysis, Ricardo Edwards, says that increasing employee engagement is crucial in driving higher levels of productivity in organisations.He noted that Jamaica has one of the lowest levels of labour productivity in the region, and JBDC surveys indicate that one in four employees is disengaged.“There is strong statistical correlation between engagement and productivity. Where persons scored highly on the productivity scale, they were also highly engaged and vice versa,” he said at a recent Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank.Mr. Edwards said the JBDC’s qualitative data indicate that the greatest challenge facing Jamaican organisations is the need to foster a culture in the workplace that is conducive to productivity.“In many organisations, the culture is characterised by silos – departments acting as if they are organisations to themselves. We also found that there are challenges with communication,” he noted.Mr. Edwards is encouraging employers to attend the JBDC’s upcoming Employee Engagement Conference 2019 to learn strategies that can be implemented to improve engagement and productivity.“Come prepared with your concerns as you will receive solutions to fix that problem. One of our objectives for this conference is that you will leave with an assignment; you are going to design a strategy, develop it and you go back to your workplace and you deliver by implementing that strategy,” he said.The Employee Engagement Conference will be held from October 16-17 at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston under the theme: ‘Employee Experience 3D – Design. Develop. Deliver’. He noted that Jamaica has one of the lowest levels of labour productivity in the region, and JBDC surveys indicate that one in four employees is disengaged. Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) Senior Project Officer for Data Analysis, Ricardo Edwards, says that increasing employee engagement is crucial in driving higher levels of productivity in organisations. read more

JISCOAlpart Operations Set to Be Suspended For Up to Two Years

Operations at the Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO)/Alpart alumina refinery in Nain, St Elizabeth, are set to be suspended for up to two years to facilitate the plant’s modernisation and expansion.Speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (September 10), Transport and Mining Minster, Hon. Robert Montague, said the Ministry’s technical team recommended several options to JISCO relating to operations, during the modernisation discussions.He noted, however, that after careful consideration, the company decided that the best option at this time is to suspend alumina production and focus attention on a full-scale modernisation and expansion programme.Mr. Montague explained that the decision was arrived at after the consideration of various factors.These, he said, include worker safety and welfare, the high cost of production and high levels of waste, noting that “to continue producing alumina at over US$480 per tonne is unviable”.Other factors include the prevailing low and falling price of alumina on the world market, difficulties sourcing parts for old equipment, and discontinuation of the manufacturing of many of the parts and systems used by Alpart.Mr. Montague said JISCO has indicated that this phase of Alpart’s development is slated to commence within the next 50 days.“I wish to remind this House and the people of Jamaica that the modernisation and expansion programme will be one of the largest investments in the history of the country. Total investment is projected at US$1.1 billion when completed,” he stated.The Minister added that the planned upgrade will result in a significantly more efficient refinery and that its production capacity will be increased from 1.65 million tonnes to two million tonnes per year.“One of the principal objectives of the pending modernisation programme is to markedly lower the refinery’s production cost. This will increase its competiveness, save jobs, reduce waste and generate income for the Government of Jamaica,” Mr. Montague said.The Minister said the pending modernisation and expansion of Alpart will build on work that commenced upon being acquired by JISCO.“That initial phase of the modernisation programme included the installation of some 10 megawatts (MW) of packaged power to augment the existing power plant, which has been a major source of the plant’s problems,” Mr. Montague said.“Significant civil works, including the pouring of foundations for various buildings and systems, and direct improvements to the power plant have been completed,” he added.Mr. Montague also told the Lower House that equipment and machinery needed for the expansion are either on site, en route to Jamaica or on order.JISCO acquired Alpart from United Company RUSAL (UC RUSAL) in 2016 for approximately US$299 million.By December 2017 the refinery had shipped its first cargo of alumina under JISCO’s ownership.Initial rehabilitation and upgrades over the years by JISCO are valued at approximately US$300 million. Story Highlights Speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (September 10), Transport and Mining Minster, Hon. Robert Montague, said the Ministry’s technical team recommended several options to JISCO relating to operations, during the modernisation discussions. Operations at the Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO)/Alpart alumina refinery in Nain, St Elizabeth, are set to be suspended for up to two years to facilitate the plant’s modernisation and expansion. He noted, however, that after careful consideration, the company decided that the best option at this time is to suspend alumina production and focus attention on a full-scale modernisation and expansion programme. read more