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Jaric2“You have to care about people. That’s what Safety is all about. You are there as the buffer to step in — and your intervention could be the thing that sends someone home to his or her family at the end of the day.”

Safety is second nature for Eric Kipps, a self-labelled ‘Road Safety Junkie’. Eric is the Co-director of JARIC Environment Safety and Health Services, and he is one of the leading defensive driving instructors in the Caribbean.
He is affiliated with the National Safety Council (NSC) of the United States of America, and acts as a consultant and representative on their behalf, travelling to countries throughout the world to train instructors on road safety and to present at conferences demonstrating the impact of safety on organisations. A member of the National Association of Safety Professionals of the United States of America, he is also currently the Road Safety Instructor of the Year, and in 2012 was nominated as the International Defensive Driving Instructor of the Year by the International Safety Council.

From Marine Engineering to HSE

With 31 years in the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard under his belt, it is evident that safety has always been a passion of Eric’s. “While you are at sea, safety is paramount,” he explains. “Everything you do impacts the safety of the ship, and by extension the entire crew.” When the Cipriani College of Labour & Co-operative Studies introduced Trinidad and Tobago’s first Safety and Health course in 1996, one of Eric’s mentors encouraged him to do it — and he was soon hooked, absorbing everything he could and even travelling abroad to undergo sector-specific training. “Safety was a natural progression from my first passion of marine engineering, and as I got more and more into it, I saw a way to marry my two passions,” he says. The marriage of his two passions came in the form of JARIC, which was established in 2001. Since its inception, JARIC has expanded into the JARIC Group of Companies, branching off into other entities including a branch in Tobago, the company Caribbean EMS and Safety Supplies, a joint venture with Fleet Cube in South Africa, and the HSE Quarterly Magazine — of which Eric’s Co-director Janice Smith is editor-in-chief.
JARIC produces the HSE Quarterly, an industry-specific magazine on Health and Safety

JARIC produces the HSE Quarterly

In 2004, JARIC became a National Safety Council Training Centre offering road safety and driver safety training to the public, and later on fleet management was also added to the range of the company’s services. In 2005, JARIC in conjunction with Mercury Associates of the United States hosted Trinidad and Tobago’s first Fleet and Road Safety Conference, which soon become an annual event.

Road Safety & the Organisation

While the term ‘road safety’ brings to mind only the possible ramifications to an individual, Eric strongly advocates that road safety can have a tremendous impact on the organisation as well. “Think about it: you invest in your human resources when you train an employee — but then you lose the employee in a car crash on the weekend,” he explains. “Or maybe on the way to work, or from work. Or even during work, for those who drive as part of the job. “What about the drivers who make deliveries for shops that open at 6a.m.? These drivers are on the road from around 4a.m…. is he working a double shift; has he had a good night’s sleep? It is your obligation as an organisation to ensure that your driver is not a danger to himself and others on the road.” As part of a fleet management audit by JARIC, a full driver profile is analysed to determine the best approach to such situations. Furthermore, vehicles are examined to ensure they are fit for the road; and fleet management planning is also reviewed to find possible ways to reduce the amount of trips needed. “Often, several trips can be combined into one, which saves fuel and the wear and tear on the vehicles — not to mention reduces the possible chances of something happening on the road,” he adds. “We also look at crash frequency rates, measuring the cost to the organisation for the vehicle, human injury and even fatality; through doing this we can begin to make recommendations for improvements and put the necessary measures in place to mitigate such occurrences.”

A Passion for Road Safety

At the heart of it all, Eric’s passion for Road Safety is palpable in everything he does. One of his most recent accomplishments was the 2013 launch of the Left Side of the Road (LSR) Programme for defensive driving. “In Trinidad and Tobago, we have been doing defensive driving training for the past 30 years, but we have been using a programme designed for the United States where they drive on the right side of the road,” Eric says. “The LSR Programme was developed with the Caribbean, India and South Africa in mind. We also adapted the Programme for cultural and climate differences — for example, instead of deer crossing it is more common for us to see goats, and we would have different weather conditions than snow.” This year he launches the LSR Programme in South Africa to defensive driving instructors, who will in turn pass on the knowledge to their clients and the rest of the nation. Sharing knowledge is a fundamental building block of safety, and one Eric doesn’t take lightly.
Defensive Driving is one of the various services offered by JARIC

Defensive Driving is one of the services provided by JARIC

His focus at this stage in his career is to develop people and ‘give back’ what he has learnt from his own training. Already, his experience has brought him full circle — he currently lectures at Cipriani College of Labour & Co-operative Studies in Safety Management and Safety Technology, encouraging preventative habits in persons that have chosen to pursue a career in Health and Safety. Eric strives to inculcate a culture of taking responsibility for oneself and for one’s environment both on and off the road. “Safety is the key to life,” he adds. “And my advice to anyone and everyone is that you should live life to the fullest — but within the speed limit!”

What You Need to Know

JARIC offers a defensive driving course, which is a one-day 5 to 6 hour course held on Saturdays, twice per month at Trincity Industrial Estate and House of Angostura (once at each location). The cost is TT$380. JARIC’s list of services include:
  • Implementation of Safety Management Systems
  • Implementation of Environmental Management Systems
  • Implementation of Quality Management Systems
  • Defensive Driving
  • Certified Emergency Vehicle Operator
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • First aid & CPR Training
  • Certified First Responder
  • Risk Assessment
  • Accident Investigation
  • Environmental Awareness
  • Safety & Health Awareness
Please contact JARIC directly for more information on Fleet Management Audits, Defensive Driving Courses and other aspects of Health and Safety for the individual and the organisaton. For more information, please visit JARIC’s official website. JARIC can be reached at the following numbers and addresses: Lot 5B Trincity Industrial Estate, Trincity, Trinidad, W.I. Tel: (868) 221-4100 or 223-1198 / Fax: (868) 222-2147 #98 Norma Drive, Birchwood Triangle, Lowlands, Tobago W.I. Tel: (868) 631-0547 / Fax: (868) 631-0987

Also be sure to check out our WellnessConnect article: Watchwords of the ‘Road Safety Junkie’.