A health and safety training course from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has been adopted in an infrastructure development programme in Lebanon.

The Managing Safely course was selected by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to support one of its funded projects in Lebanon. The project supports one of the few Lebanese private sector organisations involved in the distribution of electricity. The company, BUTEC Utility Services (BUS), is aiming to upgrade the distribution network and install smart meters for all its 520,000 consumers. The objective is to reduce technical and commercial losses from 25% to between 10% and 13%, by improving the reliability and efficiency of the distribution grid and by encouraging better consumer behaviour.

Downtown Beirut, Lebanon

As part of its process in approving funding for projects, the EBRD conducts due diligence assessments based on its environmental and social requirements, reviewing (among other factors) the applicant’s policies and procedures, occupational safety and health performance and contractor management. It was this series of checks which led EBRD to suggest health and safety training as an important contribution to the long-term sustainability of the project.

Originally intended to be delivered face-to-face earlier in the year, the training was postponed owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was then rescheduled to be given online when the dreadful explosion in the port of Beirut happened at the beginning of August meant that it had to be postponed again. The training concluded in September, delivered virtually to two separate cohorts of managers, supervisors and engineers. Forty in all have received the training.

Derran Williams, Senior Health and Safety Advisor at the EBRD, said “The EBRD funds all kinds of operations that change lives in three continents, ranging from agribusiness to infrastructure and transport. We take very seriously our responsibilities for the environmental and social impacts of the projects we invest in, and we work with our partners to achieve good international standards. This is why the highest levels of workplace health and safety management are a key component of our thinking when deciding which projects to support.

Beirut, Lebanon 2019 :

“We had no hesitation in choosing IOSH’s Managing Safely training, delivered by an IOSH-accredited training provider, to help improve health and safety understanding and practice. It is essential to include the element of capacity-building in the projects we fund. Our intention is for the health and safety management training we have funded to cascade to a far greater number of workers and managers.”

Fady Abou Jaoude, General Manager of BUS, commented “When BUS was commissioned to manage the electricity distribution sector in Lebanon, on behalf of the public utility, we identified one key axis of improvement: promoting a safety-first culture among our staff. This is why we promptly approved EBRD’s proposal and mobilised our management team to attend the Managing Safely course delivered by an IOSH-accredited training provider.

“The training was professional, easy to follow and was appreciated by all our management team who attended it. The training will definitely be beneficial for better implementing our health and safety corporate strategy. The trainees will now have a new responsibility to transfer the knowledge gained throughout the whole organisation and will make the necessary updates to our health and safety management plan.”

IOSH Director of Strategy and Business Development, Richard Orton, said “IOSH is delighted that Managing Safely is recognised by the EBRD as an important part of capacity-building in Lebanon’s electricity distribution sector. Our view is that health and safety management is critical to a well-run business, whether that is a state-run utility or a commercial company. In this particular case we hope that our training can play a role not only in the immediate rebuilding of Beirut but also in the longer term development of a key industry in Lebanon.”