'Create laws to avoid Saudi Grand Mosque encore'
The lack of safety engineers and adequate monitoring of construction sites in Saudi Arabia should be addressed to avoid a repeat of the crane crash which killed over hundred pilgrims at the Grand Mosque expansion project site, local experts say
Experts have called on Saudi Arabia to form a special body overseeing the execution of health and safety requirements on major projects being carried out in the Kingdom, so as to avoid accidents such as the crane collapse at the country's Grand Mosque.
Makkah's "tragic" accident showed there exists the need to introduce legislation that will tighten safety standards, a report by local daily Arab News stated.
According to the report, Yahya Koshk, an engineering consultant, said the cause of most construction accidents is the lack of specialised safety engineers.
"Universities and colleges in the Kingdom do not teach this discipline in their engineering departments, although it is a well-known and essential discipline for all projects.
"This is why safety engineers in the Kingdom are very rare," Koshk continued.
"Some companies enroll their engineers in safety courses, but this is not enough to ensure that they are qualified enough to monitor safety standards for machinery and equipment on various projects," he added.
The country's Civil Defense authorities should also play a greater role in terms of monitoring construction projects to ensure adherence to local and international health, safety, and environmental (HSE) regulations.
Furthermore, the government should ensure that educational institutions include engineering safety modules in their curricula.
Koshk blamed contracting firms in the Kingdom for not appointing safety engineers on their projects, adding each development should feature at least one safety engineer to verify HSE standards are being implemented.
"Failure to do so is a stark violation of international regulations on worker safety," he said.
The Saudi Council of Engineers (SCE) could also oversee safety measures being carried out by private firms in the Kingdom, Koshk continued, stating a supervisory body could be created to ensure HSE adherence on government projects.
"Hamad Al-Shaqawi, former chairman of SCE, said the grave incident in Makkah is an opportunity for the government to revise safety measures in the engineering and construction industry in the Kingdom, particularly with the current growth in these projects", the report added.