Abu Dhabi cracks down on HSE violations

Municipality to cut down construction site injuries and fatalities caused by lax HSE standards

Companies operating in the Abu Dhabi construction sector will have their transactions suspended if they are found violating health, safety and environment regulations, the Abu Dhabi Municipality announced on Sunday.

The suspension will apply to all construction project activities and will be lifted from the relevant contractor or consultant only once all workplace hazards and wrongful practices are rectified and the relevant fines are paid, a report carried by Gulf News, a Dubai based newspaper, said.

“The new system mandates all consultants and contractors to meet the requisites of the municipal HSE requirements. [It also] applies a periodic monitoring policy [so] that neither contractors nor consultants can clear a [construction] phase unless they meet all HSE standards and eliminate all forms of risk,” said Salah Awad Al Sarraj, acting executive director of town planning at the municipality, in the statement.

Prior to the mandate, companies in violation of the municipal HSE standards were issued fines based on the level and type of malpractice that was being committed. Fines used to be issued by municipal inspectors undertook periodic checks at worksites.

However, because of the large number of construction sites in the UAE capital, inspectors were not always able to check if the hazards had been removed before project activities were resumed, Abdul Aziz Zurub, director of HSE at the municipality, told Gulf News.

“This new system, however, means that municipal inspectors will not only impose fines for a violation, but also suspend all transactions. To avoid a delay in delivering the project, companies will have to rectify the violation as soon as possible and submit proof to the municipality,” he explained.

With more than 7,427 worksites in Abu Dhabi, including construction sites where maintenance work is ongoing, and demolition sites, Zurub said that 40% of the small construction sector companies in the capital had been found in violation of municipal HSE rules.

“The new initiative will have the greatest impact on reducing injuries and fatalities caused by falling from a height,” he said.

Statistics released by the Health Authority Abu Dhabi showed that 53 lives were lost to falls from heights and falling objects in 2011 in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

A set of municipal codes on the safe use of scaffolding equipment is currently being worked on and is expected to be released next month.

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