x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Weather 'no excuse' for weekend's accidents

Expert says building sites should be able to withstand winds.

DUBAI // Weather may have played a role in the construction site accidents that claimed three lives this weekend, but one expert said it should not be used as an excuse.

Imad Al Jamal, the deputy chairman of the higher technical committee for the UAE Contractors' Association, said wind or rain might weaken scaffolding or the surface on which it stood, but that scaffolding has collapsed even on calm days and structures should be strong enough to withstand harsh conditions.

"You have a responsibility to design not for 0 kph or 20 kph [but to] plan for the worst scenario," Mr Al Jamal said.

He said contractors responsible for scaffolding often neglect to conduct regular third-party safety inspections, or have used cheaper or older scaffolding since the structure was only temporary.

"In all scenarios we need an independent third party to inspect and routinely check the installation from day one till the end," he added. "You pay a little bit more."

All parties in a project must share responsibility, said Mr Al Jamal.

Clients should be willing to pay for proper scaffolding, workers should receive safety training and government bodies should enforce regulations.

The parties involved should also provide accident reports explaining what went wrong so other contractors could avoid such mistakes, he added.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai both had rain and high wind speeds over the weekend, according to the website Weather Underground.

Wind speeds in both emirates reached up to 20 kph on Friday, while yesterday they topped 35 kph.