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For Qatari residents: Do you prefer a summer or winter World Cup 2022?




Safety should be second nature

Written by  Author |   Tue, 24 May 2016 07:07

 

INTERVIEW WITH SALEM RASHID AL-KUWARI, SENIOR HSE DIRECTOR AT QATARI DIAR REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT COMPANY
 
Claims have recently resurfaced that migrant workers have been mistreated at 2022 World Cup construction sites in Qatar. 
These claims were first reported by British daily The Guardian back in 2013, and created controversy. 
 
At that time, WhyQatar magazine did some of its own investigation including an interview with Salem Rashid Al-Kuwari Senior HSE Director at Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company, the biggest development company in Qatar.
 
As rumors of workers’ abuse claims reappearing in media, WhyQatar decided to republish the interview including a preface that contradicts various of these claims.
 
Qatar denied the claims and acting responsibly named a global law firm to undertake a probe of the matter. The Labor Ministry named DLA Piper to independently review all the claims made, and to report on their veracity to the ministry. The ministry decided to take all necessary measures to respond to these allegations once the report is ready. 
 
On the other hand, Hassan al-Thawadi, Secretary General of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, announced that he was outraged by the claims, but acknowledged that it takes time to develop and enforce labor rights laws. 
Keeping the environment clean and taking care of the health and safety of workers are key issues for Qatar. 
Actually, the Ministry of Environment has issued laws for regulating work conditions and minimizing the environmental impact of construction. The labor law issued in 2004 states the Health, Safety, and the Environment (HSE) regulations that require employers to provide a safe working environment for all employees. The ministry reviews the performance of contractors, and on the onset of any breaches, the appropriate actions are taken. 
Moreover, in 2011, Cabinet Resolution No (16) established the National Committee of Occupational Health and Safety at the Ministry of Labor. The Committee is comprised of representatives from various ministries (including the Supreme Council of Health), authorities (including Ashghal, the Public Works Authority) and Qatar Petroleum (QP).
 
Many government controlled companies have their own HSE departments. One of the most active departments is the HSSELQ, Lusail Real Estate Development Company’s, LREDC’s Health, Safety, Security, Environment, Logistics and Quality Department which leads the way forward and making their mark in the HSE area. As far as safety is concerned, the HSSELQ makes sure that LTIs (Lost Time Incidents) rate as per or better than international standard. 
 
To shed light on one of Qatar’s most HSE oriented companies and look at LREDC’s (a subsidiary of Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company) active role in implementing HSE rules and regulation, WhyQatar Magazine had the following interview with Salem Rashid Al-Kuwari Senior Director of HSE at Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company.
 
WHAT DOES THE LABOR LAW 2004 STIPULATE REGARDING HEALTH, SAFETY, AND THE ENVIRONMENT (HSE) REGULATIONS? 

The Labor Law 2004 governs the relationship between the employer and the employee in terms of pay, rewards, deduction, holiday, and disciplinary action, among other issues. The law places responsibility on the employer to take care of the worker. Labor Law 2004 includes some HSE requirements about the duties of employers to provide information about ‘hazards’ and control measures to workers including medical provisions. One of the major improvements to the law is the inclusion of restricted work hours under direct sunlight in the summer. 
There are more standards regarding HSE included in Qatar Construction Specifications (QCS 2010). These introduced a whole chapter related to HSE regulations in the 2007 QCS. For example, current QCS requires a ratio of one safety office to every 50 workers employed. QCD 2010 is up for a revision with a focus on occupational hazards and safety, according to the Ministry of Labor (MOL). This revision is expected to address issues related to labor camps and work related health hazards and is due by December. In my opinion, Labor Law 2004 needs a review to put more emphasis on the complex issues and situations that arise as a result of the construction boom. 
 
HOW IS THE LAW IMPLEMENTED? 

The law is enforced by MOL HSE inspectors who have legal jurisdiction to take action such as shutting down construction sites, by involving the police, withdrawing company licenses, and ceasing to issue new work visas to the offending companies. The MOL is exerting more pressure on construction companies to improve their HSE performance. Enforcement is important to stop violators and to send the right message across the construction industry. 
 
HOW ARE HEALTH, SAFETY, SECURITY AND ENVIRONMENT REQUIREMENTS MET AT LUSAIL CITY REAL ESTATE & DEVELOPMENT COMPANY (LREDC)? 
 
LREDC developed its own HSE requirement to meet Qatari laws, regulations, building standards, and international best practice. LREDC introduced HSE requirements to be met by all consultants and contractors and these are stipulated in the terms of the contract. Our HSE requirements are very detailed and commit the contractors who work with LREDC to very high standards. These requirements are widely distributed to cover developers’ contractors as well and include Occupational Health, Medical Facilities and Provisions, in addition to Safety Compliance and are monitored via routine inspections. 
 
DO YOU HAVE SAFETY AWARENESS GENERATING PROGRAMS? TRAINING CENTERS? 
 
We take safety awareness very seriously at LREDC and therefore have a labor site awareness center for new recruits to receive ‘basic awareness’ before they are allowed to start work. We also implement a ‘Lessons Learned’ campaign among other campaigns and events. We have specialized induction protocols, regular ‘Tool Box Talks’, a monthly HSE Forum, as well as on-going training for workers; so we have comprehensive, regular training for employees. 
 
WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT LOST TIME INCIDENTS(LTIS) PERFORMANCE AT LUSAIL? 

I am proud to see our contractors achieving 10 million hours without an LTI and that has now been surpassed to achieve 15 million hours without an LTI. We are also about to evaluate a contractor for completing 20 million hours without an LTI, and so based on the US LTI rate per year, the Lusail LTI rate is below the international standard. 
 
HOW ARE THE HSE INSPECTION, REPORTING AND AUDITING DONE? 

We follow a multi-layer HSE inspection carried out by different contractors, such as the contractor who is doing the work, the supervision contractor, the project management contractor, and our own safety team. There are HSE inspections undertaken on a daily basis by contractor safety officers. Supervision consultants and project management contractors also conduct their independent HSE inspections on a daily basis. Serious risks are addressed immediately, and the HSE team members on each project meet weekly to discuss issues and follow up on improvements. 
 
HSE Audits are carried out on a quarterly basis and report their findings, whether good or bad, about HSE performance on site. All reports indicate a timescale for corrective action, are signed off by contractors and are followed up on. All inspection reports for developer’s contractors are submitted to the MOL on a weekly basis. Environmental monthly reports are submitted to the Ministry of the Environment for information and appropriate action. Audits are based on OHSAS 18001 2007.
 
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