As part of MEED’s new Quality in Construction awards, to be presented at the Arabian World Construction Summit, I have been writing a series of features on the various categories. The three areas I was asked to cover were Safety, Sustainability and Procurement (and supply chain management) and the area where I was most impressed is on the safety side. However before I continue I should make it clear that I am not in any way involved in the judging of the Quality in Construction Awards!
It is no secret that the region has had and still has, problems with site safety but some professionals have been working really hard to make sites safer. Back in 2007 representatives from a few firms such as Bovis Lend Lease, Dutco Balfour Beatty and Al Futtaim Carrillion got together and started BuildSafe Dubai. They started sharing their information – both best practice advice, and incident reports so that others could ensure they didnt befall the same accidents. Just over two years later the organisation has 108 corporate members, 6800 safety alert recipients and has spread to the entire UAE, Bahrain and Oman. Not only is the organisation not for profit, the founder members have been financing this from their own budgets. And a gentleman called Elias McGrath at BLL has done much of the hard work in setting up a website and managing the communiucations.
Their advice and support to the industry has been so effective that the Labour Ministry of the UAE is now working with them on new H&S regulations. So it is not suprising that the organisation is now asking members to pay a fee so that it can improve the website and operate as a fully independent group. Statistics collected by the organisation (the only statistics collected in the region) show that over the past 12 months fatalities have halved and lost time incidents dropped 23 per cent – this is despite an increase in reported projects by 23 per cent.
On the sustainability side there is a genuine sense of excitement among the industry about the impact that systems such as Estidama and Dubai’s new green building regulations are set to have on the sector. New companies are launching PV units for offices and designers are embracing sensible climate appropriate design techniques. All of which can only be good for the environment and the region.
The supplement will be circulated at the Arabian World Construction Summit in Abu Dhabi on 24th-26th May.