Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Nine in 10 GCC leaders believe health and safety key to business success, survey reveals

Leaders across the GCC are identifying worker protection against injury and ill health as vital to safeguarding their businesses’ reputation and resilience and improving productivity, according to new survey findings published today.

Nine in 10 senior managers operating within the Gulf Corporation Council believe the investment decisions they make on health and safety are business critical, with 85 per cent making them a top priority at board level. And 88 per cent believe that all employees have a role to play in preventing workplace accidents and ill health, not just health and safety specialists.

The survey, conducted on behalf of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), asked 250 decision-makers in the GCC how much value they place on health and safety in the workplace. IOSH, the leading professional body in work-related safety and health, revealed the results ahead of their yearly safety and health conference in Abu Dhabi, at which it will showcase updated versions of its portfolio of training products.

Ahmed El Hadidi, Chair of IOSH’s UAE Branch, said: “When people go to work, they should do so in the knowledge they will return home without their safety or health being put at risk. With that in mind, it is very encouraging that the IOSH survey has shown the majority of organisations view health and safety as an important business function.”

“It is also good to see they recognise health and safety as everyone’s responsibility. Employees play a vital role. If they see something which is unsafe, they have a responsibility to rectify it, provided it is safe to do so, and they are knowledgeable and competent enough to make that decision. Otherwise, they should report it”, added El Hadidi.

The survey questioned senior managers in nine industries: construction, oil and gas, education, sport, healthcare, finance, transport, technology and hospitality. The managers were based in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.

Of them, 91 per cent agreed that investing in the health and safety of their workforce is essential to ensuring their business has a good reputation, is resilient and is productive, with 36 per cent strongly agreeing.

Thirty-six per cent strongly agreed that their employees’ health and safety is a top priority at board level, while 50 per cent strongly agreed that all employees have a responsibility for health and safety.

The survey was conducted to coincide with UK-based IOSH’s showcase of new versions of three of its courses: Leading Safely, Managing Safely and Working Safely. These are market-leading products aimed at non-safety and health professionals. Following feedback from customer surveys, the Institution has made the products more applicable to Middle East audiences, including the introduction of statistics and laws from various countries. The products will be launched early in 2017.

With more than 2,000 members working in the GCC, IOSH chose the UAE to showcase updated versions of its portfolio of health and safety training products, revised to reflect the growing appetite for country-specific courses on worker protection.  

Dina Alkhalidi, Head of Customer Engagement at IOSH, said: “Over the past 12 months, we’ve been working hard to understand the needs of the market. Our courses run in 74 different countries and it’s very clear that we’ve a wide audience base across the world. We wanted to be responsive to their needs and have built into the courses the flexibility for trainers to add in country-specific content.”

Bas Halin, Technical Director for JC Decaux in the Middle East, has put 30 of his managers and supervisors through the Managing Safely course.

He said: “It gives them a higher level of understanding of their roles and responsibilities and provides the tools to manage safety and health better. It’s great to run courses that come from an organisation and voice of authority such as IOSH, which is recognised the world over. IOSH is helping us drive a cultural change throughout our business that means we all take responsibility for working safely. I’ve already seen it in action on my site visits.”

IOSH has three branches – UAE, Qatar and Oman – but has members in other countries in the region.

The IOSH UAE Branch is hosting the Networking Conference at the Al Raha Beach Hotel in Abu Dhabi between 8.30am and 4.30pm on Thursday 8 December. As well as the training products showcase, it will also see the Ministry of Education, the Abu Dhabi Occupational Safety and Health Center and Dubai Municipality provide updates on their work.

For more information on the training products visit