SC achieves huge success in workers’ welfare

 03 Jan 2018 - 10:09

The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) has made great achievements in the area of workers’ welfare as almost 17,000 workers are currently engaged on project sites of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The workers are all helping to bring the World Cup to life and it is the duty of SC and its Workers’ Welfare Department (WWD) to ensure their health, safety and general wellbeing are all protected during their time on the programme.

The past 12 months have seen a huge focus on outreach and innovation to contribute to achieving this goal. The first half of the year also demonstrated SC’s commitment to transparency, as it continued to work with Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) and the external monitor Impactt Ltd.

The work with BWI saw six inspections take place during 2017 at Al Wakrah Stadium, Al Bayt Stadium-Al Khor City, Al Rayyan Stadium, Qatar Foundation Stadium and multiple accommodation sites. The developing partnership with BWI, through the joint working group made up of both SC and BWI representatives, identified a series of health and safety issues that SC was able to address and enhance.

Throughout the process, BWI’s team of experts offered feedback in a number of areas, including suggestions to strengthen grievance mechanisms and to enhance occupational health and safety. All suggestions will be addressed, and training of worker representatives will take place as the cooperation agreement with BWI continues for a second year in 2018.

SC released its own progress report in June, which gave its perspective on the successes and challenges of the previous year. 2018 will see the publication of these reports again, in addition to an annual report by the BWI joint working group.

In terms of outreach, one of the key initiatives launched by SC in 2017 was the nutrition program with Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar. A first-of-its-kind in the Gulf region, the program was designed to identify prevalent health risks among SC workers, and to raise awareness of the importance of health and nutrition among workers and contractors.

The first phase tested more than 1,000 workers for key health issues, and the results were used to shape phases two and three, which will focus respectively on training and awareness for workers and contractors, and proposing menu changes to caterers in order to improve diets throughout 2018.

During this period, the SC also recognized the need to enhance the skills of workers to protect their safety and bolster their skills for both current and future employment. To achieve this, SC partnered with Qatar International Safety Center and began delivering bespoke training to workers in late 2017.

The initial focus has been on workers’ welfare induction, while the first quarter of 2018 will cover emergency medical training and occupational health training, among other topics.

The emergency medical training is largely based on the findings of a recent emergency medical response assessment carried out by SC’s health and safety team across all sites and accommodations. This was initiated to identify health and safety gaps and offer solutions that could immediately make a difference to the level of healthcare on our projects. 

The assessment included baseline health screenings for 12,000 workers, in addition to assessments of medical staff and facilities. The findings were used first and foremost to ensure that workers deemed as high-risk receive immediate medical attention, and secondly to develop a health and safety roadmap, which SC will continue to implement throughout the course of 2018.

In a similar vein of health and safety enhancements, SC worked to identify and roll out innovative cooling technologies across its projects. It piloted state-of-the-art technologies at Al Wakrah Stadium and Lusail Stadium sites to assess if these solutions would benefit workers during hotter times of the year. 

The findings from the pilots were very positive, and as a result cooling towels and vests were distributed to approximately 10,000 workers on the program. SC is hopeful that 2018 will see further enhancements in this area, with the help of local research and development partners.

Throughout this time, SC continued to execute its comprehensive compliance and audit program. It developed a robust compliance and audit plan to help enforce its Workers’ Welfare Standards to ensure workers are protected all the way through from recruitment to repatriation. Implementation of this plan resulted in 8,800 hours spent on accommodation inspections and ethical recruitment audits throughout the year, with 10 percent of the workforce being interviewed.

Another major achievement in this area was the institution of the pre-other contracting parties approval, a process that allows the WWD to audit other contracting parties and approve or reject them before a main contractor mobilizes them on any SC project. This has greatly enhanced the committee’s compliance program and it will continue to do so in the coming year.

The compliance efforts also addressed a key issue the amplification of workers’ voices. Throughout 2017, SC launched a dedicated grievance hotline to receive and address workers’ issues and concerns. it also worked on enhancing existing Workers’ Welfare Forums (WWF) and on instituting new ones where needed. 

There are currently 52 active WWFs across the program. The forums saw worker representative elections being carried out across multiple sites, with many more due in 2018, when SC will continue to expand and enhance the mechanisms available to workers to make their voices heard.

SC looks forward to continuing the projects it launched in 2017, and rolling out further initiatives in 2018 to address the challenges and gaps identified along the way.