Simon Moon says greater education on construction sites is necessary to meet health and safety standards
The Middle East construction industry needs to be engaged at the ‘working level’ if health and safety standards are to be met, said Simon Moon, chief executive for the Middle East at Atkins.
With the global consultancy operating throughout the GCC region, Moon believes that it can have a major impact in pushing through education and change, both at a government and senior level, and on-site, where it matters most.
“When I came to the region about three years ago, one of the things that struck me in particular was the varying degrees of construction safety and worker welfare that exists across all the places we work in. I thought that we needed to, rather than avoid it, step into the issue,” he told MEConstructionNews.com.
“Given that we’re a strong player in this field and a have a strong brand and reputation, we’ve got a chance to educate and change [mind-sets].”
To do this, Atkins has created a series of guidelines called the ‘Atkins Minimum Requirements for Construction Safety’. These aim to inform and educate clients about how they can implement safety standards in practice.
Moon conceded that it would not be a straightforward chase, given the varying levels of interest and application in the GCC.
“It’s the level of maturity, at the lowest level, the first step is the basic health and safety on site. Then there’s the highest level of maturity, which is thinking about the health and welfare of everyone who works on the project.
“If I talk to clients, professional organisations, governments and the private sector – at a senior level – then they absolutely understand this and want to put policies in place. Where you find the challenge is at the working level, where you walk onto a site and see how they’re actually implementing the intent of the government or the senior people from the client,” he explained.
“That’s really about hearts and minds, and about making people aware that you can save money [through health and safety]. A lot of people put it down to money, and we’ve actually got plenty of evidence that shows that if you have a safer place for people to work, and if you look after their health and welfare, then you actually get a more successful project.
“It’s about educating them at that level. Clients get it, certainly, but when you get to the working level, it’s about getting really good site supervision people or resident engineers who have the tenacity to hold the client accountable about the working levels on site,” he concluded.