By Sona Nambiar on Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Dubai Municipality’s (DM) Building Department has issued a new safety manual for construction work priced at Dh100, which is an update on the previous one written more than a decade ago, according to a top municipal official.
Essa Al Maidour, Assistant Director General of Dubai Municipality for Planning and Building Affairs, said: “The aim is to have safer construction sites in Dubai.”
The earlier manual, which was written 13 years ago, had 23 chapters covering safety issues at construction sites. The revised version is available in English and Arabic and stems from the municipality’s concern for safety and the need to introduce future safety standards, Al Maidour said. It outlines general and specific safety procedures for all types of construction and demolition works and associated jobs.
“We are trying to update the information in keeping with the times and the construction boom in Dubai. To create greater awareness, we also plan to place it online and hold workshops. Our teams will spread the information at the work sites,” said Al Maidour.
The manual is priced for a reason, he said. “People tend to throw away manuals that are given to them free. So it will be available to everyone in the construction industry in Dubai, including developers, for a reasonable fee of Dh100.”
The manual is part of legislations currently being framed by DM with the objective of introducing a complete legal framework in line with its Strategic Plan 2007-2011. “The manual was compiled by Mirdif Security and Safety Consultants (MSSC), who are specialised in this field, along with a team from DM. It can be used as a reference for regulating the working conditions in construction projects for all employees who work with contractors or sub-contractors,” said Al Maidour.
“MSSC has drawn from international best practices and, hopefully, we have covered most of the issues. We used our existing standards and also drew from American National Standards, National Fire Protection, Construction Safety Association of Canada and others.”
DM will issue its technical guidelines to the 4,000 contractors in Dubai on a free basis and also on the website.
“In 2006, we created the manual for Dubai Municipality,” said Dr Wasem Rajae Al Alami, HSE Director at MSSC. “We also revised their technical guidelines, which included noise studies as well as research on the qualifications of safety officers and crane operators.”
But it does not end there. “In our contract, we have to train DM inspectors and at the same time we have to make revisions in the future in the manuals based on the actual experiences on sites here,” Al Alami said.
Set up in 1995, MSSC is involved in outreach training and has trained employees in the Ministry of Labour in 2004, followed by DM employees on OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).
Al Maidour said DM prefers to be reasonable with construction companies but does close down firms that repeatedly violate the rules. “We start with warning the offending company, followed by a series of fines. Closing the company is the most severe punishment in this field,” said Al Maidour. “We try to be reasonable. The aim is not to fine but correct the situation and to improve the environment, and we are trying to do it in a friendly way. But sometimes, it is inevitable that we stop their activities. There is close co-ordination between Dubai Municipality, Dubai Police and Civil Defence. So, even if a company does not report an accident, we will get information through this network.
Fawzi Mohammed Al Shehi, Acting Director of the Building Department, said once a firm oversteps the Dh50,000 fine limit, DM stops its activities and starts giving it black points.
“The safety issues can vary from simple ones, such as wearing a helmet, to serious violations. Approximately, it goes up to 12 violations a day,” said Al Shehi. “We give them three days to rectify their actions.”
Accidents blamed on negligence
Al Shehi said the manual includes a set of rules, which regulate construction projects carried out in the Emirate of Dubai.
According to him, available statistics of the total number of accidents at construction sites for the past four years show that a considerable percentage of accidents has occurred due to negligence of safety practices.
For instance, falling from heights constituted 45 per cent of the total 865 accidents that occurred during the period from 2004 until 2007.
Other types of accidents were collapses at work sites (23 per cent), accidents involving cranes and other machinery (14 per cent) and fire and electric shock (7 per cent).
In 2007 alone, there were 249 accidents in which 47.8 per cent were falling from heights. Taking this into consideration, the manual stipulates in at least four chapters stringent safety measures for preventing such accidents.
“The book has four chapters designated to cover this issue of falling from heights,” said Al Maidour. “We do random checks on the sites. However, it is not just our responsibility. It is also the consultant’s and the contractor’s responsibility.
If the consultant sees that the contractors are not following the safety measures, he must bear his part of the responsibility by not allowing the contractor to proceed with the work till the approved safety standards are met.”
The manual outlines general safety rules and clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of the employers, consultant engineers, contractors and sub-contractors with regard to safety issues.
It also lists the minimum requirements and the necessary arrangements to be made throughout all phases of construction, including design works, supervision and implementation, in order to save the lives of employees and ensure their safety.
The manual says consultant engineers and contractors are responsible for the overall safety of a construction project throughout the implementation period and thereafter, according to the prevailing laws and local orders in this regard.
Their responsibility also extends to buildings close to the construction site and any other public facility that may be affected by the works. The manual also lays down stricter fire safety preconditions in the wake of an increased rate of fire accidents at projects under construction.
Sourcse: Business 24/7