Successful worker welfare schemes in the UAE’s construction industry were highlighted at a meeting of health and safety professionals. With many major construction projects taking place in the Emirates, the UAE Branch of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) held the event to focus on how employees are looked after and how this benefits businesses in return.

The construction industry is the second largest sector in the UAE, employing over 500,000 workers. The event included a seminar, which examined relevant international standards and focused on examples of good practice for managing risks to labour welfare. This was followed by a panel discussion, featuring industry experts from organisations such as Gulf Related, Control Risks, WSP and Multiplex.

More than 70 people attended the event, held at the Al Raha Beach Hotel in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday 31 January. It was aimed at allowing those responsible for looking after the welfare of workers among contractors and sub-contractors, to share their own schemes and learn from those of others.

One of the organisers, Steve Smith, a member of the IOSH branch’s committee, said afterwards: “The event proved to be an invaluable platform, bringing together key players in the construction supply chain to discuss the overlap between labour welfare and wider-felt risks pertaining to wellbeing, safety, reputational damage and productivity.

“I was very pleased with the resulting discussions that made significant headway in bringing forth industry-wide challenges and opportunities, realising the importance of collective action throughout the supply chain. This consensus also acknowledged the need for interdepartmental collaboration, shifting responsibility to all teams operating in a business.”

Some of the key areas discussed included the importance of high-level policy commitment and corresponding welfare management procedures that can help to reinforce existing health and safety systems without using additional resources.

Steve added: “The construction industry is a major employer in the UAE. It is naturally a high-risk industry so it is imperative that employers look after not only the safety of workers but there welfare as well. By doing this, businesses can reap the rewards. If employees are happy and healthy – through strong worker welfare schemes – they will be more productive, which helps to increase business success.”