x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Three maintenance workers die in fall

The deaths, on Friday afternoon in Sharjah, came just two weeks after four workers died after plunging six storeys in a near-identical accident.

Three workers died on Friday in Sharjah when their maintenance cradle collapsed.
Three workers died on Friday in Sharjah when their maintenance cradle collapsed.

SHARJAH // Three workers have been killed after the maintenance cradle they were working on collapsed, triggering renewed calls for greater on-site safety. The deaths, on Friday afternoon, came just two weeks after four workers died after plunging six storeys in a near-identical accident.

In the latest incident, the three men were working on a construction site in Al Nahda, behind Sahara Mall. Two workers were pronounced dead at the scene and the third died on Saturday night at Al Qassimi Hospital after suffering a severe brain haemorrhage and multiple fractures. "Our team has tried its best to save the worker's life," said a spokesman for the hospital. "We made one operation to stop the brain bleeding, but the situation was deteriorating for the more than 30 hours he stayed in the intensive care unit."

The dead were identified as Ahmed H, 25, an Indian national, and two Egyptians, Ayman N, 28, and Omar N, 26, who died later in the hospital. "We are deeply concerned by the increasing construction accidents and urge engineers, construction companies and concerned authorities in Sharjah to help ensure workers safety at construction sites," said a spokesman for Sharjah Police, which has launched an investigation.

The two contracting companies declined to comment yesterday. Work at the site has been put on hold. Workers in the neighbouring sites, who said they shared the same accommodation as the dead workers in Sharjah Industrial area, said most of their colleagues were in shock. "I have two friends working on that site, all of them are sick and sleeping," said one 26-year-old Egyptian. The accident follows the death of four men after a maintenance cradle at Ansar Mall in Sharjah collapsed a fortnight ago.

Police last week said they had concluded their investigations and handed their findings over to prosecutors. Yesterday, experts said health and safety laws were in place, but were rarely enforced. Gerry Kumar, a member of Emirates Safety Group and a health and safety manager for 20 years, said: "We have very clearly defined safety rules in the federal law as well as the local laws." Mr Kumar urged the UAE to follow the lead of the UK, where the law holds a chief executive of a company responsible for worker deaths.

In the UAE, the site manager, site engineer and safety manager are questioned in connection with workplace accidents. They must show paperwork that proves the men were trained properly in safety and the proper safety certificates had been obtained. "They have to prove their innocence with paperwork," said one health and safety manger, who declined to be named. Claymore Safety and Security Consultants is among the companies that issue safety certificates on behalf of municipalities, including Sharjah.

Its managing director, Hussain Alyasi, said the weight, size, height and the sturdiness of the cradle would be scrutinised before any worker was allowed to work on it. "We have qualified engineers for this. They check it and if they are OK with it, they will issue the certificate." ykakande@thenational.ae eharnan@thenational.ae