The UAE and HSE – Frequently Asked Questions

Sponsored Article by Rebecca Kelly

The United Arab Emirates recognizes the importance of the ongoing development of the country that it must protect the welfare of its population and protect the environment for generations to come. Some of the most common questions we are asked are about the laws that exist to protect, and the standards to follow.

  1. What are the relevant UAE regulations to comply with?
    Some of the main HSE laws in the UAE are as follows, however, every Emirate may have additional requirements issued through the relevant department in the respective Emirate.

    – Federal Law No. (24) of 1999 for the protection and development of the environment;
    – Federal Law No. (8) of 1980 as amended – UAE Labour Law
    – Ministerial Decision No. (27/1) of 1981 concerning remote areas and locations
    – Ministerial Decision No. (32) of 1982 concerning preventive methods to protect employees
    – Ministerial Decision No. (37/2) of 1982 concerning standards of medical care provided for Employees
    – Ministerial Decision No. (4/1) of 1981 concerning hazardous works
    – Cabinet Decision (13) of 2009 approving the standards for Labour Accommodation
    – Ministerial Decision (591) of 2016 approving the guide for Labour Accommodation

    Where an organization is licensed and where it does business in the UAE, impacts which rule it is governed by. The above list is not exhaustive, however, they are considered the main governing rules all companies must comply with.

  2. How can we ensure safety in the workplace?
    A key way to ensure safety in the workplace would be to install a “Safety Inspection” Program. Although safety inspections and audits are not required by OSHA, they are viewed as components of an effective safety plan. Inspects can be used, by articles 91 to 101 of the UAE Labour Law, to ensure that the safety and healthcare of employees is a top priority.

    Checkpoints in a safety inspection should include:
    – Mid-day breaks for employees working under the sun;
    – Medical insurance provided to employees;
    – Medical check-ups provided to employees at risk of contracting occupational diseases;
    – Clear signage setting out means through which employees can protect themselves from hazards to which they might be exposed (to be provided in Arabic, English and the native language of the majority of employees);
    – Readily available first aid kit or kits containing medicines, bandages and other first-aid materials.

  3. How should we carry out a Safety Inspection?
    A safety inspection is a procedure developed internally by any organization to recognize any unsafe conditions or acts and determines steps to improve safety for employees. In most cases, with construction sites, it is the responsibility of all personnel to actively be aware of unsafe conditions and continually report any issues. This type of practice minimizes potential risks and creates a safety culture. No construction site personnel should wait for a Safety Inspection to proceed before highlighting unsafe practices.

    However, to ensure that nothing is missed a safety inspection would begin with the Safety Officers “walking through” a site to assess any noticeably unsafe conditions, examine equipment, and observe work practices to identify any unsafe procedures or actions.

    The next step would be to review any findings by site design and operational access points to assess whether any changes can be incorporated to alleviate any hazardous conditions.

    The final step would be to examine the safety training and response efforts of employees to ensure all are equipped with the correct knowledge of working in a safe way to achieve as hazardless an environment as possible.

  4. Does an employer or an employee need to provide personal protective equipment to their employees?
    Personal protective equipment is the equipment used or items worn to protect employees from occupational hazards such as dust, dirt, fumes and sparks by providing a barrier to help prevent any exposure. The types of personal protective equipment required to depend upon the specific workplace and potential hazards but items could include protective gloves, gowns, hearing protection, goggles, overalls, aprons, masks, surgical masks with visors, respirators, face shields, and helmets.

  5. When and how frequently should we provide HSE training to our employees?
    HSE Training is essential to any health and safety program.

    All employees should receive initial mandatory training before starting their role within an organization. Such training should consist of key areas such as emergency information and protocols, safety procedures for the employee’s specific role, personal protective equipment, hazardous areas and how to approach them, and safety communications.
    As well as providing HSE training on an employee’s initial joining, it is also advisable to provide specific training upon the identification of unsafe conditions following a safety inspection or audit.

    It is also suggested to provide periodic refresher courses on key HSE areas to all employees.

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