Firms flouting safety rules will face action

COMPANIES that fail to ensure proper safety guidelines will face action in the event of a worksite fatality or injury, a top official has warned.

That is the case even if an accident victim ignores company procedures or fails to use equipment provided, stressed Labour and Social Development Ministry occupational safety head Mustafa Al Shaikh.

He told the GDN that firms were not only required to provide safety equipment and instruction, but also ensure their staff followed basic guidelines.

“The most important factor is supervision,” he explained.

“When we hear that workers don’t follow rules or procedures when carrying out specific tasks, it is not acceptable.

“It is unacceptable that a fatality results because the worker did not follow the safety procedure.

“Each organisation has a structure, with a team and supervisors, and when a fatality or an accident happens it means they had a safety leadership oversight.

“We cannot leave the worker to do whatever he does – that is an old style of management.”

He said such excuses would not be tolerated, including when it came to enforcing a ban on outdoor work between midday and 4pm in July and August.


“With the summer ban, most of the time the employer who violates blames workers – saying they took the initiative and continued because they had some work to do or wanted to finish what they were doing,” added Mr Al Shaikh.

“But there is a supervisor, there is a leader and the ministry sees this as lack of safety leadership – and we don’t accept an excuse like that.”

He was speaking to the GDN on the sidelines of the second Safety and Health Conference, which opened yesterday at the GIIC Clubhouse, in Hidd.

The two-day forum, organised by the General Trade Union of Foulath, focuses on worksite safety.

Mr Al Shaikh said the number of worksite fatalities in Bahrain had decreased over the years, but added that even one death was one too many.

“The number of fatalities has gone down, compared with those in 2005 or 2006, when the number of victims was very high,” he said.

“For example, last year we had 21 deaths – and we are definitely not proud about this, because even one life is precious.

“But in terms of statistics, the numbers are going down.

“Regarding the fatalities, 90 per cent of them involve falling from heights.

“When someone does a task on the ground, the level of risk is lower.

“Most such fatalities are because of not taking preventive measures – most contractors at small and medium companies don’t have a work platform, even for workers at heights of 20m and above. They are standing on a block.

“This is unsafe, as opposed to a mobile elevator.”

The GDN reported in February that of the 21 worksite deaths reported last year, 75pc (16) involved men falling from heights.

Of the total 367 accidents registered last year, 95 involved men falling from heights, while 60 were injured by falling objects, 44 collided with machinery or equipment, 40 crashed into stationary or moving items, 31 tripped or slipped, 20 were trapped, 16 suffered burn injuries, 13 were injured when lifting heavy items, nine were electrocuted, seven suffered heat injuries, six were hurt by an explosion, four were involved in vehicle accidents, four others collapsed, two suffered suffocation – one in water and one from hazardous materials – and 14 others were injured in various small accidents.


However, Mr Al Shaikh said it was impossible to inspect every company all the time.

“It is not practical to have a safety inspector for every site – it will be like asking for one policeman to guard every car on the road,” he said.

“The commitment should be to a safety culture, not about capturing or detecting the violations.

“We cannot say that because there is crime in Bahrain, the police are not doing their work – it’s not logical.”

The conference was opened yesterday by ministry assistant under-secretary for social development Khalid Al Kooheji.

Also in attendance were parliament first vice-chairman MP Abdulnabi Salman, MP Sayed Hashim and Foulath Group chief executive Dilip George, operations manager Edwin P M, General Trade Union of Foulath chairwoman Maisa Sultan and representatives of the Interior Ministry.



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