Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Cradle safety starts with inspections

The death of two window cleaners this week is a horrible reminder that more needs to be done, and urgently, to make such worksites safe.

On Tuesday, two window cleaners in Abu Dhabi plummeted to their death from 15 floors above the pavement. The men were trapped in a cleaning cradle for four hours after the motor controlling the device malfunctioned. Outraged at the slow pace of rescue efforts, investigators have rightly referred this case to the courts.

It will be some time before the men's families have answers and any criminal charges are settled. But this case highlights a broader problem of poor high-rise safety that demands immediate attention.

The National has reported with tragic frequency on cleaners or construction workers who fall from work sites or cradles. Yet although some progress has been made in recent years in terms of safety in the workplace, avoidable accidents continue.

For this reason authorities must step up measures to compel employers to ensure the safety of their workers. A culture of safety should be preceded by a system of safety, enforced through a set of laws and regulations that includes clear legislation on workplace responsibilities, liabilities, penalties, insurance and compensation.

That workers continue to be killed on the job too often results from a lack of responsibility on all sides. But the greatest responsibility lies with employers. Many workers arrive in the Emirates with little safety training, or perhaps no experience at all. It's not enough to provide harnesses for cleaners, safety belts for construction workers and masks for welders. The use of these devices must be enforced until it is second nature.

On cradle safety specifically, a lack of coordination between maintenance companies and regulators has left gaps in inspection regimes. Abu Dhabi law currently mandates inspection of cleaning cradles once or twice a year. Cradle makers say every three months is safer. Discrepancies like these must be reconciled.

Protecting workers at height is a continuing challenge for the UAE. Authorities have taken some measures to reduce the number of casualties, but it is not enough to deal with incidents on a case-by-case basis. A culture of safety, from recruitment to day-to-day supervision, must be nurtured. And that requires the full force of the law.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 An tenant in the Al Barsha area of Dubai has been sent a non-renewable contract by the landlord. Randi Sokoloff / The National

Dubai landlord refuses to pay back Rera fees after losing rent case

Keren Bobker helps a tenant who wants to know how to reclaim his RERA case fees and who has also been sent a contract with a “one-year nonrenewable” note.

 A Brabus Mercedes 6x6 Sports Utility Vehicle is readied for display during Auto China 2014 in Beijing, on April 20. Adrian Bradshaw / EPA

In pictures: Auto China 2014 exhibition

Leading automakers have gathered in Beijing for the kickoff of China’s biggest car show, but lacklustre growth and environmental restrictions in the world’s largest car market have thrown uncertainty into the mix. More than 1,100 vehicles are being showcased.

 A customer looks at a large mock-up of videogame console Game Boy.  Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP Photo

Nintendo’s Game Boy at 25: hand-held legacy lives on

Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks its 25th anniversary Monday with the portable device’s legacy living on in cutting-edge smartphone games and among legions of nostalgic fans.

 Ashish Nehra of Chennai Super Kings bowls to Kings XI Punjab at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Hard-hitting Chennai not deterred by opening loss in IPL

But some questions remain about the team's attack ahead of Monday's match against Delhi Daredevils in Abu Dhabi, writes Osman Samiuddin.

 A projectionist takes a break in the projection room at Ariana Cinema in Kabul, Afghanistan. Going to the movies, once banned under the Taliban, has become a popular form of entertainment in Kabul, but women and children rarely take part. All photos by Photo by Jonathan Saruk / Reportage by Getty Images

Afghan cinema: Forbidden Reel

The lights go down and the projector whirls into action as Sher Mohammed, 35, begins his routine, bouncing back and forth between two projectors, winding reels, and adjusting the carbon arc lamps inside the projectors.

 Business class seats inside the Emirates Airbus A380. Chip East / Reuters

In it for the long haul: flying 16 hours with Emirates to LA

Our executive travel reviewer tries out the business class offering on Emirates' longest A380 route - and finds time passing quickly.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National