x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Workplace health and safety manual

A new health and safety manual has been developed for workers in federal buildings.

ABU DHABI // Stricter safety standards are to be introduced at construction sites and in the workplace of all federal buildings both in the UAE and abroad under new policy procedures.

The Emirates Real Estate Corporation (EREC), which oversees the design, construction and management of all federal buildings, will this year implement more rigorous standards for building sites and safety at work.

The guidelines, outlined in a policy manual drafted this month, will regulate everything from excavation and scaffolding on construction sites to air quality and evacuation procedures in offices.

"EREC wants to take the lead in promoting health and safety on the government level," said Salem al Saleh, the acting general manager of EREC. "Previously, there was nobody paying too much attention to health and safety. We want to be leaders."

Projects the EREC has administered include the Ministry of Education complex, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Public Works.

The municipality and other government agencies have stepped up health, safety and environment policies in recent months as worker safety has become a priority.

Late last year, the municipality announced it would issue work permits only for construction projects that implement comprehensive safety plans. In 2009, at least 10 construction workers died in accidents, ranging from falls to accidents to collapsed structures.

The Health Authority-Abu Dhabi reported there were 108 workplace deaths in 2009.

The EREC manual was developed by the Emirates Institute for Health and Safety (EIHS) and was designed as a pragmatic guideline. "It's a live document, and it can be updated and revised as standards change," said Norman Labbe, the managing director of EIHS.

The policy meets local, national and international standards, as EREC is responsible for constructing federal buildings and embassies worldwide.

The manual will apply to contractors and subcontractors hired by EREC, and outlines procedures for enforcement and implementation.

"The manual will help ensure that the contractor commits to meeting the standards while also monitoring and taking correction actions if necessary," said Mr Labbe. "EREC will assign someone to verify that the procedures are being followed."

EIHS will now adapt a similar manual for Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank.