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Leaders KSA: HSE needs project team collaboration

Shaping HSE standards in Saudi Arabia demands a unified construction industry influencing stakeholder behaviour

SPECIAL REPORTS, Country Report, HSE, Leaders in Construction KSA, Leaders KSA, Saudi Arabia

Could the unfortunate crane tragedy in Mecca have been avoided? “All accidents are avoidable, so in that sense, yes it could,” Tom Baines, head of corporate health, safety, and environment (HSE) at Arcadis Middle East, said.

Baines was one of the panellists at a roundtable held during Construction Week’s summit in Saudi. The discussion revolved around which reforms will enhance HSE standards, the training programmes needed to generate awareness, and tools to evaluate HSE management practices in Saudi Arabia.

Capt. Nasser Al Otaibi, director of safety at Al Bawani General Contracting, said: “I believe it’s the responsibility of everyone in a construction team, such as engineers, labourers, and management employees, to contribute data about safety on the job.

“With Al Bawani, this procedure has proven successful,” Al Otaibi added.

Aziz Zerban, regional director for HSE at CH2M Olayan, said HSE issues are improving at a very slow pace in Saudi, compared to other markets like Qatar and the UAE.

“It’s very slow and lots of improvements need to take place from the regulators’ end,” said Zerban. “Public sector enforcement is needed, and even private firms need to take responsibility for the safety of their people.”

Baines said it is not only the clients’ responsibility to be HSE-conscious, but the entire construction team’s: even consultants.

“My duties extend to making sure that everyone arrives safely to work and leaves home safely,” he said, adding it doesn’t stop at Arcadis staff.

“We’ve got 150 staff on sites supervising 20,000-30,000 men of different nationalities, and all of them need to arrive and leave safely.

“HSE can be considered an extra cost, and whether it’s built into the tenders and made mandatory for safety records, is currently up to individual stakeholders,” Baines added.

Aziz said that the effect of companies recognising and rewarding HSE initiatives will be to help spread the word about the importance of these issues with all stakeholders. “Penalising is important when dangerous situations occur, but compensating good behaviour is equally crucial.”

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