The Caribbean Industrial Research Institute’s (CARIRI’s) Air Quality Management Services (AQMS) and Civil Engineering department recently hosted an information session entitled, “Indoor Environmental Quality- Issues faced in the workplace” at CARIRI’s Centre for Enterprise Development, Innovation Avenue, Freeport as part of their mandate to promote a safe and healthy working environment. The session was well attended by over 100 Health and Safety Professionals and BIGWU representatives throughout the country.
CARIRI’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Liaquat Ali Shah in his opening remarks welcomed everyone to CARIRI’s Centre for Enterprise Development and went on to say, “We all need air to breathe therefore we are all affected by poor indoor air quality.” Mr. Shah stated that though indoor air quality in buildings was highly publicized in the media, individuals do not fully understand the effects air pollution can have on your health, work life and mental performance which in turn affects productivity.
He also touched on another new service offered by CARIRI known as Slip Resistance Testing. The occurrence of Slips, Trips and Falls within recent times, in commercial spaces has grown rapidly and in speaking with persons in the construction sector, a common point of contention has always been the coefficient of friction, which is the measure of slip resistance of a tile.
Mr. Shah urged everyone to treat health and safety as a joint commitment between management and employees to proactively find solutions. He ended his speech with this profound statement on ascertaining the root cause of IEQ, “Better is not always about doing more, but identifying the risk.”
Mr. Wesley Francis, Health and Safety Officer for BIGWU also delivered an address where he reported alarming statistics of how poor Indoor Environmental Quality can affect employee’s health and comfort. He also discussed a familiar term “Sick building syndrome” which the audience agreed is a big deterrent to productivity. He closed by urging employees to increase the circulation of information within the workplace and to encourage more meaningful discussions on pertinent issues.
Participants also gained insights from CARIRI's expert team who are Council-Certified Environmental Consultants accredited by the American Council of Accredited Certification (ACAC) and the Council of Engineering and Scientific Specialty Boards (CESB) which is the most prestigious certification specific to Indoor Air Quality.
Ms. Tisha John, Environmental Specialist and Head of CARIRI’s Indoor Air Quality Department presented on some of the effects and causes of poor IAQ which she attributed to common indoor contaminants such as dust, fibreglass, indoor allergens such as dust mites from carpet and fabric furniture and even ozone from photocopiers. Ms. John advised the HSE officers to keep an eye out for prevalent cases of skin rashes, dryness and irritation of eyes, nose, throat and skin, headaches, fatigue, dizziness and nausea and sinus congestion as these are common symptoms of poor IAQ. She closed off her presentation summarizing some of the common causes of issues associated with poor IAQ which include improperly maintained HVAC’s, contamination by construction materials, continuous re-circulation of air inside buildings and lastly increases in the number of building occupants.
The next presenter, Ms. Tricia Singh, Laboratory Manager of CARIRI gave a riveting presentation on, “Mold Management: A proactive approach.” She describes mold as the most misunderstood and controversial topic of all indoor air quality parameters which includes mold spores, bacteria, yeast and viruses. Ms. Singh also went on to specify three main factors influencing growth of mold indoors which include the availability of food sources, temperature and moisture.
Ms. Singh closed off by saying air contamination is not the only cause for feelings of discomfort and illness and may be related to issues in the total indoor environment such as noise levels, thermal comfort (temperature, humidity and air movement), lighting and ergonomics which she explained CARIRI has the capability to test.
CARIRI’s capabilities were expounded by Mr. Rishi Shaffie, Environmental Technologist of CARIRI who describes the Air Quality Management Unit as a multi-disciplinary team with extensive experience and a wide range of skills to meet the needs of the Client. Basically, the department can monitor for any occupational hygiene exposure (noise, heat stress, gases, particulates, vibration, lighting, and ergonomics) and compare results to international and local standards and guidelines.
Ms. Lisa Ramoutar closed off the session with her presentation on slips, trips and falls which she described as a service that is needed in Trinidad and Tobago, and by extension the region, since it will provide users of commercial spaces with a measure of comfort over the safety of walkways and floors. To assess a floor's slip resistance, CARIRI now has a reliable, thoroughly researched floor friction test method and the equipment necessary to conduct the assessment. As Ms Ramoutar stated in her presentation “One of the biggest aspects of Walkway Safety is the Slips, Trips and Falls. We want to minimize these.”
CARIRI is not only about general research rather it is about applied research. For more information on our Indoor Environmental Quality you can contact our team at:
Trincity West Industrial Estate,
Tel: (868) 285-5050 ext. 3300/3190
CARIRI’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Liaquat Ali Shah during his Opening Address
Side-shot of attendees at CARIRI’s Air Quality Session
Mr. Wesley Francis, Health and Safety Officer, BIGWU during his address
Our esteemed presenters from (L-R) Ms. Tricia Singh, Laboratory Manager, Mr. Rishi Shaffie, Environmental Technologist, Ms. Tisha John, Environmental Specialist and Ms. Lisa Ramoutar, Team Lead- Civil.
On Wednesday 3rd May at its flagship hub for innovation, the Centre for Enterprise Development in Freeport, the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) launched one of its newest services for Innovation called the ‘Innovation Gap Analysis Programme’ (IGAP) which is aimed at fostering and encouraging innovation in Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs).
Innovation is ‘Creativity Being Implemented’; this is CARIRI’s own definition and something that the Institute has continually been seeking new opportunities and avenues to encourage innovative thinking. As part of its ongoing thrust to build capacity for Innovation on a national scale, and thereby contribute more substantively to the achievement of Government's national goal of economic diversification, CARIRI has initiated the implementation of this programme.
IGAP is modeled along the lines of the Danish Technological Institute's (DTI's) Innovation Agent Programme (IAP) and is being implemented at CARIRI with consultancy support from the DTI, under a Collaboration Agreement between the Institutes.
This relationship with the DTI was formed due to CARIRI’s association and membership in the World Association of Industrial and Technological Research Organizations (WAITRO). There are over 150 members of WAITRO from around the world and CARIRI has been searching for partnerships that will benefit the country and the region, and this is just one of them.
The IGAP programme is intended to identify and engage potential innovations in existing companies and will also address the need to develop a culture of Innovation in private sector enterprises, particularly SMEs, based on the recognition that SMEs are particularly vulnerable to the rapidly changing dynamics of the international economic environment and, to remain competitive, these enterprises must keep their value proposition current, relevant and valuable to customers.
In this context, the IGAP would provide assistance at a number of levels, including:
- Facilitating co-operation with national, regional and international knowledge and Innovation systems,
- Helping companies gain access to knowledge, for instance, about new technologies and solutions that they were not aware of before and assisting them in applying that knowledge to strengthen their business and enhance competitiveness.
- Showing companies how to generate value for their business by investing in Innovation.
- Supporting companies, particularly SMEs, in thinking "out of the box", using their imagination, and being attentive to other factors playing a vital role in Innovation processes.
- Helping companies, both large and small, in undertaking Innovation activity by actually developing pretotypes/prototypes, initiating user test of new business ideas and accelerating quickly to market.
Dr Erik Hallgren, Senior Consultant in Innovation at DTI's Centre for Ideas and Innovation, who is quite knowledgeable and experienced in Facilitation and Development of Innovation Processes in SMEs, spoke at the session and captured the imagination of the audience on the innovation process. In his presentation, Dr Hallgren encouraged people to think beyond the box and get beyond the thought that we can’t compete with countries like China. He stressed that people in this country were very innovative and he had seen and heard of many ideas that, if commercialised, could become major players in the European market. He took the audience through the Danish innovation process and then attempted to show the linkage to T&T in the current economic environment. He then went on to further expound on the way forward for the programme and how we can use the IGAP as an essential tool in developing the innovation eco-system in private sector enterprises.
Chief Executive Officer of CARIRI, Mr Liaquat Ali Shah urged the audience to incorporate innovation in their daily lives and to not just treat the word innovation as another fad but to understand how it can catapult an SME into the global arena. Mr Shah has been an advocate of innovation and what can be achieved when this concept is applied. It is with this thinking that many of the SMEs that attended the session were able to sign up for a complimentary IGAP visit to their organization to start the process of implementing an innovative culture into their processes.