Trade licensing body could be established in five years, health and safety experts predict
Health and safety officers from Habtoor Leighton Group have said a mandatory trade licensing scheme, which would include health and safety training, across UAE construction sites is the “next step” in improving the health and safety of construction workers.
Speaking at a roundtable discussion for Big Project Middle East HLG project safety officer, Keith Finnigan, says similar schemes in Hong Kong and the UK that saw workers receive a basic standard in health and safety training before being granted a license to work have significantly reduced the number of accidents onsite.
“I think that would be another major initiative here in the Emirates, where everybody who is employed on a construction site firstly must have basic safety training,” Finnigan stated.
“Dubai and Abu Dhabi Municipalities are working towards that and are possibly making it a federal requirement, but then the trades licensing would be the next step on top of that,” he added.
Abu Dhabi Municipality is currently assessing the benefits of such as scheme as part of its EHSMS (Environmental Health and Safety Management System) programme, part of which sees every accident occurring in the Emirate logged by contractors via the municipality’s environment department. Last year 29 fatalities were recorded on sites across the Emirate.
Yet the nature of the system has in the past been called into question as it is dependent on accurate reporting from contractors.
Habtoor Leighton Group, which has initiated its own internal ‘black points’ system for onsite for onsite health and safety breaches, reports the number of incidents on its sites has decreased dramatically following the engagement of workers through training programmes and workshops.
The firm says its own scheme is based on the UK’s City and Guild standard and has taken two years to set; based on this timescale, group manager for OHSE and training, Martin Kelly, predicts a similar system could be introduced to the Emirates within five years.
“Should the authorities commit to it, they could have a system in place that they could roll out to the industry and the tradesmen that are in the UAE have to become licensed,” said Kelly.
“Within five years everybody who is here could become licensed and those people who come in have to pass a competency standard before they are licensed or they would have to go into a training establishment to become licensed and gain municipality approval,” he added.
The full discussion, also featuring Taylor Wessing partner Mark Fraser and Al Nabooda managing director S. Rajagopal can be read in October issue of Big Project Middle East