UAE construction safety experts call for more information sharing

Sharing of HSE data can help prevent onsite accidents, experts say

PHOTO: One of the biggest challenges facing HSE teams is the differences between the various cultures and nationalities, experts say. Credit: Shutterstock

Health and safety experts have called for greater information sharing within the construction industry to allow for better prevention of onsite accidents.

Big Project ME spoke to three of the leading health and safety environment (HSE) experts in the UAE to find out what are some the biggest challenges currently faced by the industry.

Denis Green, construction safety manager at ALEC, called for sharing of HSE performance indicators to enable interested parties to gain a better understanding of where their organisations are in terms of health and safety.

“Currently benchmarking in the construction industry in the GCC is very difficult as information in respect to specific regional industry norms are not known, and therefore companies often only have their own performance to benchmark against,” he said.

“It would be great if contractors could share HSE performance indicators to enable interested parties to better understand where the current level of performance of their organisation is, or that of sub-contractors, in order to take proactive steps to cause the desired change.”

Mohammad Bidad, group HSE manager at Arabian Contractors Company (ACC), told Big Project ME that sharing of information would help reduce the number of accidents across the industry, as HSE managers and supervisors would be armed with the knowledge to counter potentially hazardous situations.

“My instructions to my team are: if an incident happens, please do not cover it up. Share it with everybody, because that sharing will highlight (the mistake) and even if one person gets a lesson from it and avoids the repetition of the same accident (then it’s worth it),” he said.

“At ACC, part of my job is that if an incident happens in any part of the world, it will come to our office and we will convert it into an alert, and this alert will go out to every office of ours, wherever the flag of ACC is flying. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in India, Saudi Arabia, Doha, we alert everybody, and what were the causes of it.

“We highlight to them to avoid repetition of the same to ensure safety. That will help greatly.”

One of the biggest challenges facing HSE teams is the differences between the various cultures and nationalities, said Bidad. With majority of the labour force coming from South-East Asia – India, Pakistan and Nepal – he says that it’s imperative to change the perceptions and habits of both the workers and the countries they come from.

“The biggest challenge for any contractor on a construction site is the cultural habits. The majority of our workforce comes from India and Pakistan, where health and safety isn’t the biggest priority onsite. But we at ACC have recognised that and we’re trying to optimise and confront that and get it solved,” he said.

“How we do that is by nibbling at it, training, toolbox talks and inductions. As well as lessons learnt from mistakes – whether ours or anyone else. And that’s how we (work). The moment an incident happens, anywhere in the world, we will send an alert to everybody to arrange toolbox talks, where the same topic will be discussed for everybody to be aware and learn lessons from it.”

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