x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Zero-tolerance safety

There are positives to take from the spine-chillingly dangerous actions of a window cleaner working on a 13th story ledge in Abu Dhabi last week.

Nobody who saw the photograph taken by Ramesh Menon of the window cleaner untethered on a thin 13th floor ledge of the Abu Dhabi Mall building last week could fail to have been shocked by the man’s casual disregard of his own safety. This was all the more unsettling because the necessary safety equipment was provided but was not used.

An understandable initial reaction might be to lament what seems to be the lack of progress made to improve the safety of workers in the UAE but on reflection, there are positives that emerge from this incident.

One is that the photographer recorded the incident then reported it to the mall management rather than simply shrugging his shoulders at obvious dangerous conduct. Safety is everyone’s job and Mr Menon showed that members of the public are not going to turn a blind eye to it.

Another is that the cleaning company had its contract terminated. This zero-tolerance policy is essential, even though it might seem tough when the company provided all the equipment to do the job safely, only for it to be ignored by the worker. But employers must account for workers with little education who will be tempted to risk their own safety to make life easier. Only then will safety really improve.