Safety First: GCC's initiatives to improve HSE

fmME highlights a handful of health & safety initiatives deployed by some of the GCC’s facilities management companies.

Increased infrastructure growth will enhance the GCC's focus on health and safety.
Increased infrastructure growth will enhance the GCC's focus on health and safety.

With the infrastructure market estimated to reach $500bn by 2020 (World Bank), the number of projects is going to spike significantly. What will then likely follow is an ever-stronger focus on health and safety.

As a matter of course, a number of FM providers have already stepped up their game developing health, safety and environment (HSE) procedures.

AWithin the fire and safety market, a significant growth period over the next few years is expected, stemming from regional infrastructure development and adoption of stringent codes. According to market intelligence firm Frost & Sullivan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are both currently leading the market segment, surpassing even the UAE. Forecasts for 2016 to 2018 however, predict that the UAE’s market will accelerate significantly, likely a result of planned developments for the World Expo 2020.

Frost & Sullivan’s findings reported the global fire and safety market was worth $7.6bn in 2013, and comprised detection and suppression technologies. The GCC market constituted roughly 16% of the global total, equating to roughly $1.2bn.

Frost & Sullivan expects the market to continue to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rae (CAGR) of 14%, reaching $2.4bn by 2018.

From risk management to accident investigation, health awareness seminars to more practical exercises on fire and emergency preparedness, the HSE segment is quickly gaining traction among FM ranks.

Programmes are beginning to look at not only internal improvement, but that of the surrounding communities as well.

This month, fmME takes a closer look at the health and safety initiatives currently deployed by some of the region’s facilities management firms.

We take a close look at the origins of these initiatives, their respective goals, as well as analysing the impact they’ve had on both the company and the industry as a whole.

Al Shirawi FM’s Tracks initiative

First put into play on World Health & Safety Day on 28 April 2014, Al Shirawi FM’s Track’s Initiative was conceived to introduce H&S guidelines and practices across the entirety of the organisation, through various events, campaigns and welfare activities. Since its inception, the initiative’s safety and welfare officer has reportedly hosted more than 780 training seminars, 2,300 tool box talks and awareness progress.

To measure the effectiveness of the programme, Al Shirwai FM has utilised supervisory control and data acquisition systems (SCADA) in addition to standard methodology. Additional measurement tools comprised absenteeism data, committee meetings, internal audits and reviews, interviews, KPIs and HSE performance data.

In addition to being shortlisted at the 2015 Facilities Management Middle East Awards in the Health and Safety Initiative of the Year, Al Shirawi FM’s Tracks was previously awarded a commendation by the UAE’s Road Traffic Authority (RTA) as Best Safety Contractor for the Year in 2014.

The initiative helped Al Shirawi FM achieve five million man hours of work without incident on the RTA contract, particularly with the management of the Shindagha and Airport tunnels. The programme emphasised the impact of disruption to the surrounding community, while further reducing disruption times with the introduction of a custom-built emergency response vehicle and team.

“At Al Shirawi FM, we see health and safety as our responsibility towards the industry but above all, the wider society. Health and safety is not a matter of best practice, policies and procedures or even bench-marking targets, it is a culture,” explains Evie Boustantzi, general manager and director of special projects.

She adds: “What we are aiming for is to change the frame of mind of our people at a level whereby those required behaviours become second nature. This can only happen when a business culture lives and breathes health and safety and the management team walks its talk, itself a role model for those behaviours.”

Hoping to further evolve the initiative, Al Shirawi FM is looking to deploy a handful of additional programmes under Tracks, including IOSH working/managing safety training for employees.

Additional additions include health campaigns to oversee the well-being of employees, stress reduction workshops, emergency and response training, as well as implementing a ‘Good Samaritan’ programme to encourage active participation.

Khidmah’s Health Awareness & Training Campaign

With heavy emphasis on the health and well-being of its employees, Khidmah’s Health Awareness & Training Campaign comprises a number of health-related programmes. These range from training seminars to raise awareness on diseases such as hepatitis and diabetes, to CSR activities that see employees coordinating with theHealth Authority Abu Dhabi to donate blood for the community.

The programme includes Emergency First Responder Training, a certification that is taught by the health club team and Safety First UK, to all professional staff at Khidmah, including executive management. Not limited to matters of the body, the initiative supports the spiritual development of employees.

“Every year Khidmah sends about 60 technicians to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah under the patronage or our executive management,” explains Ryan Darnell, executive director of FM, Khidmah.

“Our Support Services and HSQE teams provide support to the technicians to ensure they have MERS awareness training and health kits are issued for their travels,” he adds.

Outside of improving the well-being of its workforce, Khidmah’s initiative also boasts a social media component that has to date published over 60 articles on safety. Distributed to more than 25,000 stakeholders, the medium includes sharing several training campaigns to engage awareness throughout the local community.

As technology increasingly becomes a critical component of FM service delivery, Khidmah utilises its CAFM system to measure the impact of the initiative. In addition to the significant reduction of absenteeism owing to illness, the programme has shown marked improvement in overall productivity.

Darnell comments: “Lost time injury rates have reduced along with 433 trained emergency responders, 604 trained contractors who have zero accident frequency rates and a cumulative total of 3.99 million safe working hours from the inception of the programme to April 2015.”

Although the initiative was recently featured as highly commended within the Health and Safety Initiative of the Year category at the 2015 Facilities Management Middle East Awards, there is always room for the improvement.

Khidmah has moved to introduce a Total Employee Involvement programme, which encourages participation and consultation, as well as a safety programme called ‘I see, I fix it’, which encourages staff to become more proactive in the workplace.

“We are continuing our focus on a healthy diet and simple exercises for employees, along with periodic health screening of our team.

“Our focus is also on certain professions like our drivers and technical team to ensure they have greater support also,” says Darnell.

Emrill’s Don’t Walk By initiative

Launched in 2009, Emrill’s Don’t Walk By initiative was originally conceived as a tool for employees to report health and safety concerns on ongoing projects.

Helping to engage staff to be proactive and aware of safety issues in their work environment, the initiative has to date addressed over one million reported cases. It has proven instrumental in the prevention of accidents and incidents throughout the business.

“Emrill’s Don’t Walk By initiative not only raises safety concerns but also identifies and enables us to adopt and share best practices across the business,” comments Avtar Singh, IMS manager, Emrill.

“This allows us to continuously improve our service delivery and practice as an organisation.”

Since its inception, the initiative’s influence has reached beyond the confines of the business to impact on the surrounding communities.

In certain cases, employee feedback has led to the installation of safety measures on active projects. These include speed bumps, barriers around security gate houses, modification of streetlights, as well as enhancements of children’s play areas.

In one instance, feedback from the team led to the removal of a shrubbery, which was blocking visibility for drivers on a nearby road.

In addition to the reports submitted by employees, the impact of the Don’t Walk By initiative is measured by health and safety key performance indicators.

These are collated and analysed regularly so as to gain an effective measurement of H&S performance on ongoing contracts.

“Additionally, our site-based HSEQ representatives prepare a trend analysis report from Don’t Walk By submissions and develop safety awareness briefings for the operations team,” comments Singh.

“Our management team is committed to making this a success through extensive monthly site tours, enabling them to build relations with the site teams and personally verify each site’s HSEQ performance,” he adds.

Hoping to further the benefits of the initiative, Emrill’s team has begun to explore the idea of categorising the quality of work performance in terms of HSE.

In addition to aiding the company as a tool for reporting health and safety concerns, it will be used as a measuring tool for service quality. Furthermore, Emrill is considering digitising the entire process.

“We are also exploring a software-based application where operational staff can submit Don’t Walk By notes through their computers or mobile devices…We believe this would positively impact our response times to health and safety, quality of service and support sustainability initiatives in the future,” beams Singh.


ETA FM’s hard FM service division EMCO maintains its own distinctive approach to health and safety. For starters, there is a motivation scheme for its employees, who are awarded ‘EMCOINS’ for adhering to safety standards and behaviour.

With 4.3 million issued over 2014, EMCOINS also act as a performance indicator for staff.

In the case of unsafe practices, the company issues safety attitude improvement slips that entail advice and counselling for relevant employees and team leaders.

EMCO regularly conducts risk impact assessments in all its activities and carries out regular inspection of its tools and equipment.

Under the programme, 25 HSE specialists employed by the company are regularly deployed across various projects to facilitate HSE-related advice and support ongoing operations.

In June 2015, EMCO hosted a three-day health and safety exhibition at Borouge’s plant in Ruwais, Abu Dhbai.

“Our various initiatives have been bearing fruit as evidenced by our employees’ behavioural change towards HSE, with the following results: low lost time incident frequency rate (LTIF) and lost time incident severity rate (LTIS); high number of near-miss/suggestion reports; and high audit scores,” explains Aimad El Habti, director, Centre of Excellence, ETA FM.

The initiative is largely managed through EMCO’s HSE Management system that has consistently won the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) 18001:2007 rating since 2002.

Furthermore, since 2012, the management system has been certified with the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 14001:2004 certification since 2012.

EMCO’s HSE initiative has already won great favour with the campaign’s clientele.

In one particular case, it was named HSE Partner of the Year in May 2015 by Abu Dhabi Gas Industries Limited.

Looking ahead, ETA FM’s EMCO has begun to explore the potential benefits of implementing technology as part of the HSE initiative.

The approach could produce a number of viable applications.

“We will embark on further strengthening our information technology (IT) tools and continuously improving our procedures. At the start of each year, we will launch strategic programmes and all HSE certificate holders will be automatically assigned as our inspectors,” comments El Habti.

“They will be equipped with mobile devices to effectively and quickly report their findings. We are also looking at automating our QPS and making it available online for our inspectors,” he adds.

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