Workers and employers can significantly reduce occupational injury rates in the UAE by participating in the “Height Aware” programme, said the Health Authority—Abu Dhabi (HAAD) at the project’s launch on Wednesday.
Through this initiative, supported by the Ministry of Labour and Abu Dhabi Environment, Health and Safety Centre, the HAAD will supply educational material on how to maintain workplace safety when operating above ground level or near high-placed objects that can fall on workers below.
“With work-related injuries being one of the largest occupational health issues in our region and with the construction industry in the UAE and GCC region growing very swiftly, working at height has become a common requirement for many jobs,” said Dr Omniyat Al Hajri, HAAD’s Director of Public Health and Policy, adding that the initiative also applied to those who climb buildings, ladders or even trees in the course of their work.
According to the HAAD, nearly 75 per cent of fatal occupational injuries in the emirate last year were related to falls or falling objects. “In the year 2011, we lost 53 precious lives (to height-related injuries). It’s a moral duty to ensure the safety of our workers. Economically, this project will also have a significant impact, considering the effect of height-related injuries on lost time and productivity, and also the cost of treatment to our healthcare system,” said Dr Al Hajri.
Multimedia resources provided through “Height Aware”, including instructional posters, pamphlets and animated videos, have been developed to reach different target audiences. Materials are available not only in English, Arabic and several South Asian languages, but also in varying degrees of technical difficulty. Manuals for employers and supervisors contain more detailed explanations on how to secure work sites, whereas resources for workers incorporate more pictorial content to aid the less-educated.
Though the programme aims to raise awareness primarily among workers, Darren Joubert, HAAD’s Senior Advisor on Occupational Health, emphasised the importance of getting employers involved. “The programme tells the employer what they should be doing. It enables them to do the right thing, so they can create awareness of the issue, train their workers and implement correct precautions to comply with the legislation,” he said.
The HAAD offers the resources free of charge, available for download over the internet or for pickup from Abu Dhabi. Although the “Height Aware” programme was created to reduce injuries in Abu Dhabi, organisers welcome the spread of the campaign to the rest of the UAE, the GCC and throughout the world, said Joubert.