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Times of Oman - 26.08.2015

MUSCAT: Companies found violating safety standards with regard to workers will be penalised, said a Ministry of Manpower official following a spate of accidents reported at construction sites.

“The Labour Law and the Ministry of Manpower are strict in ensuring the safety of workers at work sites. If there are any violations, it will be probed and the offenders will be penalised,” the official told the Times of Oman.

During the last few days, six workers suffered injuries at construction sites in Seeb and Buraimi and had to be hospitalised.



In Seeb, a building under construction collapsed injuring four workers, and in Buraimi two were injured in a similar accident.

“In the Buraimi incident, 12 workers had a narrow escape. The two who suffered injuries were rescued by the police and rushed to the hospital,” a social worker in Buraimi told Times of Oman.

In Seeb, those who were stuck in the building after it collapsed had to be rescued by the police.

A trade union leader said that there can be no compromises with regard to the safety of workers. “We cannot risk their lives. There should be proper safety measures. Making them work in an unsafe environment is an unpardonable offence. When we come across such cases we alert the manpower ministry,” said Mohammed Al Khaldi, board member of General Federation of Oman Trade Union (GFOTU).

An Indian social worker said that on an average he handles cases of at least four workers injured at work sites every month.

“We receive emergency calls mainly from construction workers. Along with the embassy officials and the police we take up the case and help the injured workers,” said Shameer PTK, a Muscat-based social worker.

“In some cases, if the injuries are serious, we are forced to repatriate them. Unfortunately, we find that in many cases, workers risk their lives without proper safety gear,” added Shameer.

Meanwhile, Mark Pudwell, training manager at Competence HR, said that it is the right of every worker to work in a safe environment where potential hazards are mitigated through a risk assessment of their job and appropriate level of on-the-job training and safety inductions.

“This is no less important in the construction industry where the diverse nature of potential hazards is especially dangerous to employees. Everyone working in this industry should, as an absolute minimum, be given effective personal protective equipment such as safety boots, gloves, head and eye protection, and site safety training before they enter the construction site,” added Pudwell.

He said that the construction companies have a moral if not a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of their employees by hiring qualified people, providing suitable and effective PPE, and additional training where required.

“This requirement clearly has a cost implication for construction company owners, but the creation of a safe working environment, with training and suitable equipment, will always enhance the reputation of that company as an ethical employer.

“Construction company clients also have a moral obligation to check the standard of safety equipment provided, and should refrain from working with a company that does not ensure adequate safety provisions for its workforce,” he said.

Onsite inspections

Local authorities should increase the number of no-notice onsite inspections throughout the country and severely reprimand companies that fail in this essential area of employee safety, added Pudwell.

“The total human cost for the loss of life or serious injury onsite always outweighs the cost of equipment and training,” he also added.

Meanwhile, a municipal council member said that companies involved in construction projects should not compromise on project standards set by the municipality when the agreement is being signed.

Keep tabs

“We do follow up regularly. We also keep tabs on the projects to check whether they are violating construction standards,” said Salim Mohammed Al Ghamari, member, Muscat Municipality Council.
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