Safety Challenges Facing the Middle East

Growth in the Middle East shows no signs of slowing any time soon, but with this the spotlight continues to fall upon us to ensure that world-class safety programmes are implemented and best practice is applied. We must be increasingly vigilant, working together to protect our colleagues from work-related harm.

Achieving a safe working environment is an on-going challenge. Safer working practices are being deployed, PCC is being issued, better training delivered, and risk management and best practices being shared and specialised. However, in a global context the region still has a unique set of challenges with one of the most diverse and multi-cultural workforces, with multiple contractors being brought together from different working environments, with multiple dialects and languages, all working on a single and potentially hazardous site.

The diverse nature of fabrication sites range from impressive large-scale civil construction projects, to infrastructure, oil installations and even nuclear power plants. And if that diversity is not enough, workers are faced with the added extreme conditions of heat, humidity, wind, rain and dust during certain times of the year, and that’s before safe-working practices such as working at heights has even been considered and mitigated against. Amongst all the complexity a simple truth is self evident – every worker should return home at the end of each day intact having worked safely. As all industries continue to rationalise to compensate for the low oil prices, we must not forget to invest in health and safety.

It is no secret that behaviour and culture can often be the gap between a safe and an unsafe workforce. A ‘no compromise’ attitude around breaches of safety rules communicated from the ‘top’ to the ‘bottom’ of an organisation (and vice versa) are fundamental to ensure a reduction in safety incidents and a continued safe working environment. We are all in this together and have both an individual and collective responsibility, whether manager or worker, to ensure that we look out for each other and speak up where we see potential problems.

In the Middle East, workers now routinely receive behavioural-based safety training and the correct PPE to do their specific tasks. However, we cannot afford to be complacent, each and every human error we make, however minor, can become a contributing factor to something more serious, or potentially fatal. So we all have to be responsible, own it, learn from near misses, be safer and reduce fatalities.

There are many ways and means to ensure that employees and contractors receive the health and safety training required, however the focus needs to take account of the audience’s needs. For example, many workers only speak their mother tongue, and therefore a dependence on audio driven training may not have the impact for which it was intended. Therefore a bias towards visual communication may need to be applied.

Come and talk to us about how we have helped to transform the health and safety culture and behaviour of multi-cultural organisations across the Middle East, and around the world.

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