Senan Al Naboodah: “Individual accountability in HSE” necessary

EXCLUSIVE: ANGC's Senan Al Naboodah speaks to CW on the firm’s emergency protocol key points under HSE requirements

ANCG deployed  2,600 workers at Mankhool mixed-use project during the peak construction period [Image: ANCG]
ANCG deployed 2,600 workers at Mankhool mixed-use project during the peak construction period [Image: ANCG]

Health and safety environment (HSE) in the Middle East has come a far way, as the standards and safety regulations governing this key aspect of the region’s construction industry has gone from strength to strength.

Contractors are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that construction sites are not just safe for workers, but are actually accident-free. This has been made possible due to the highest safety standards that are mandated for construction site workers.

For Dubai-based Al Naboodah Construction Group (ANCG), which is currently constructing the four-building mixed-used Makhool project for AW Rostamani Group, HSE programmes have developed with a shift from “a focus on the lagging indicators, towards the leading indicators”, the group’s managing director, Senan Al Naboodah told Construction Week, while underlining the company’s emergency protocol key points for HSE.

Al Naboodah said, the contractor recorded nearly 16 million Lost Time Injury-free (LTI) man-hours on the site, with the safety milestone being achieved since the beginning of construction activities until 5 January 2020.

ANCG’s building division and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) business, Trans Gulf Electromechanical are working on the project. Scope of work for the contractor at the Mankhool project include, building the structure, as well as finishing and external works. ANCG had deployed 2,600 workers on the site during peak construction activities, alongside a total of 29 subcontractors.

The building division, Trans Gulf Electromechanical, and several other subcontractors together posted 15,894,644 LTI-free man-hours as of 3 January. Meanwhile, Trans Gulf alone recorded 5,495,769 LTI-free man-hours as of 5 January 2020, Al Naboodah revealed.

Speaking about the group’s focus on safety, Al Naboodah told Construction Week, ANCG’s safety focus was split across 10 key areas, which are identified under works and activities involving high risk. These activities include, working at height, working with live energy, driving and traffic management, breaking ground and excavations, working in confined spaces, carrying out lifting operations, working at the plant and with equipment, hot works and fire prevention, temporary works, and working in heat.

The Dubai-headquartered contractor divided HSE between its building division and Trans Gulf based on the scope of work. Explaining this division, Al Naboodah said: “While there would be some crossover in topics such as working at height and hot works and fire prevention, the importance of the specific safety areas would differ from team to team.”

Senan Al Naboodah, managing director of Al Naboodah Construction Group (ANCG) [Image: ANCG]

In addition to the 10 major HSE focus points, ANCG’s team conducted training and awareness campaigns on various aspects of construction including, hand safety, safe use of power tools, and handling hazardous waste, among others.

“All safety campaigns are initiated through a number of platforms, including office and site-staff safety training, safety posters and alerts in several languages across all sites and offices,” Al Naboodah explained.

When on the site, workers wear personal protective equipment (PPE) including hardhat, high-visibility jacket/ vest, safety shoes, in addition to safety glasses, dust masks, and ear defenders in some cases.

Under the contractor’s emergency protocol on site as part of its HSE programme, the firm has been adopting emergency protocols as per ANCG Protocol Key points, Al Naboodah told Construction Week.

He added that some of the key areas that ANCG has covered under the scheme includes regular fire drills, medical drills, environmental drills, and heat stress casualty drills. Al Naboodah stressed that the firm carries out mock drills every six months and ensures that all of its staff on the site take part.

The company’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) is tasked with carrying out these activities as part of its “accountabilities and responsibilities,” according to the MD.

ANCG started four initiatives, such as Visual Impact Training (VIT); See It Sort It (SI2); Mass Toolbox Talks, Rewards & Recognition; and Visible Felt Leadership, to further highlight the group’s HSE programme.

ANCG’s building division and MEP business, Trans Gulf Electromechanical, are working on the project [Image: ANCG]

Visual Impact Training (VIT)

“Our VIT uses theatre-like productions to deliver training to our workers around key hazards and risks faced at the construction sites.” Al Naboodah said that the team is made up of six actors who portray various roles in the modules delivered, with all team members having previously worked on construction sites and possessing a good awareness of the conditions and hazards faced by attendees at the sites.

“Very often when projects are facing a particular issue, VIT is used to develop and deliver modules to positively address the issue, which has proven to be highly successful.”

See It Sort It (SI2)

As part of ANCG’s SI2 initiative, everyone on site has a responsibility to prevent any unsafe acts and conditions that they witness from turning into accidents as soon as they see them. It requires the person who witnessed the incident to convey it to the people involved in the activities and draw their attention to risk.

“The project must achieve a minimum of one SI2 per person every month for operatives and four SI2s per person for management, supervisors, and staff,” Al Naboodah added.

Mass Toolbox Talks, and Rewards & Recognition

The group organises talks at its project sites in the presence of senior management. Employees are introduced to concepts related to safety, health, environment, and quality (SHEQ). Additionally, they learn about issues associated with accidents, incidents, near misses, and quality.

During these talk sessions, ANCG also gives away awards for the Best Engineer, Supervisor, and Operative Employee of the Month based on their performance under SHEQ.

Visible Felt Leadership

The contractor arranges monthly and weekly SHEQ site walks for senior management and the project management team respectively to verify effectiveness of the SHEQ management system as well as to demonstrate Visible Felt Leadership and a top-down commitment for SHEQ that has been experienced by employees.

According to the MD, following the tours, a report is issued with a compliance score and any points of recognition and action.

Technology and resources

Safety and protection of its workers is a priority for the contractor and in order to ensure that it has adopted several HSE-efficient technologies and resources.

The contractor uses climbing platforms for corewall and stairwall from DOKA and SLIPFORM, where workers can use these platforms to access the core of towers from the hoists. It also uses liftable table formwork from SLIPFORM.

Another protection system that safeguards workers from fall related incidents is slab edge protection made of steel mesh panels. Total Safety Solutions (TSS) supplies these protective walls.

The contractor has also installed TSS lift shafts that protects the open edges of lifts and secures workers from fall and other hazardous incidents.

Falling of materials, equipment, and workers is another common, often life-threatening, incident at construction sites and in order to avoid that ANCG has fixed TSS safety net fans. These nets can adapt to high-rise and exposed structures, various building shapes, and façades.

ANCG has an Emergency Response Team (ERT) on site under its HSE programme [Image: ANCG]

Changes to HSE

“We plan to focus on communication from operatives to management, taking a bottom up, rather than top down approach, by ensuring that operatives feel that they have a voice on HSE, feel comfortable speaking up and are never discouraged from doing so,” Al Naboodah stressed, while revealing the contractor’s plans for HSE programmes for the next 12 months.

He added: “We see a further focus on leading indicators, including Focus + Leadership Initiative, as well as improving engagement on individual accountabilities and responsibilities for HSE from management, supervisors, and operatives.”

The industry has witnessed significant change in the provision of safety methods for construction workers, and this change is ongoing.

Contractors such as ANCG are aiming to raise the bar for safety standards in order to place the human element at the forefront of the construction sector.

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