DOHA: As Qatar prepares to launch a string of mega development projects to host the 2022 FIFA event and expects a larger influx of foreign workers, plans are afoot to implement a set of new safety regulations for construction workers.
The State Cabinet yesterday reviewed a report submitted by a technical committee that was formed by the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning in mid-2009 to frame the draft of the above regulations.
The decision to set up the inter-ministerial panel was made by the civic minister early in 2008 after approval from the Cabinet, and in May 2010, a workshop was held with representatives of the construction and contracting industry to discuss the initial draft.
The panel, however, took help from an international consultancy firm and also consulted Qatari Engineers’ Association for their inputs to prepare the draft of the health and safety regulations for the building industry.
“We have seen the draft and given our inputs. I can tell you that the safety requirements and other aspects regarding protecting construction workers incorporated in it are of global standard,” Ahmed Jolo, head of the Qatari Engineers’ Association, said.
Jolo told this newspaper last evening that the purpose of framing new health and safety regulations for construction workers at sites was to make sure that they were of global standard.
A top official from a major construction company said asking not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, that new safety regulations for construction workers were the need of the hour. “Our major concern, though, is that the rules are implemented effectively. Officials concerned should closely follow-up on the enforcement of the law. The problem in Qatar is that the laws are good but their implementation is weak, the official hinted.
Asked how global standards could be applied per se to Qatar’s construction industry as climatic conditions were so different as compared to Europe, for instance, Jolo said local conditions had been taken into account.“We have a different work environment due to weather conditions. For instance, during the peak summer months, working hours on construction sites are restricted and no work is permitted between 11.30am and 3pm,” said Jolo. Safety conditions also vary from one building design to another. “Safety rules for workers engaged on an ordinary building site are different from those who are working on a high-rise structure,” he added, citing an instance. The report that the Cabinet reviewed at its weekly meeting yesterday talks of better ways to address the issue of workers’ safety at construction sites and applying them uniformly to the industry. There are an estimated 500,000 construction workers in the country, constituting more than 40 percent of foreign labor force. Tens of thousands of more workers are likely to come in as mega infrastructure projects are launched.