The project isaimed at “exploring the extent of occupational health screening, physical conditions, and sickness prevention of construction workers in the United Arab Emirates”.
Build Safe UAE (BSU), a not-for-profit initiative, recently collaborated with the Ministry of Labour and International Labour Organisation to draft federal level occupational health and safety regulations exclusively for the construction sector.
Last week the Occupational Health Focus Group was formed to be responsible for the establishment and development of a sustainable occupational health initiative within the UAE, group leader Tom Cranwell said.
“We wish to raise awareness with regards to occupational health, to educate employers and workers, to improve and better protect workers own health and welfare.
“Ultimately, this will build better links with employers and workers to better improve productivity, reduce sick time, possibly decrease medical expenditure, and thereby improve operational profits,” Cranwell, who works as Design Co-ordination Manager with Dubai Metro Project, told Khaleej Times.
To begin with, BSU plans to pilot the occupational health project with six to seven companies engaged in construction projects across the UAE.
“Initially, we must engage with participating organisations to carry out a pilot occupational health questionnaire survey on projects or at workers’ accommodations. Each company will hopefully elect or nominate 100 to 120 workers to participate in the pilot survey. There are no financial costs to the companies involved in order to participate.”
A 25-page questionnaire will be sent out to doctors and medical personnel dealing with the workers to collect workers’ personal details, medical history, family clinical history, pre-existing health conditions, diet pattern, exercise routine, smoking habit and drug or alcohol abuse.
“Eventually, and if we receive sufficient resources, we will conduct a much larger survey to collect extensive survey data, and set up a health statistics database, where we can review and address significant trends.” Cranwell said.
The final product, he said, will be a representative sample which will hopefully highlight the most significant issues related to workers’ occupational health in the UAE.
“Subsequently, we hope to provide best practice guidelines on occupational health for workers in order to foster a more positive health and welfare culture and encourage the adoption of self welfare practices for construction workers on sites and in worker accommodation.”
With 42 main contractors currently notifying it about worksite accidents and injuries in 418 projects in the country, BSU claims to have been informed recently about some “unexplained deaths” of workers in labour accommodations.
Cranwell said BSU members were “unable to confirm exact numbers, locations or possible causes of such deaths at this stage of the project.”
They, instead, hope that the occupational health survey will help “better understand the cause or causes behind these unexplained deaths, and to subsequently raise awareness to improve and protect workers’ health and welfare”, he added.
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