Further improvements in workplace safety and health are well within reach in the UAE and other parts of the Middle East, but engaging leadership is key to this.
That was the message from the new chair of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s (IOSH) UAE Branch during the organisation’s Middle East Conference.
While advancements have been made towards keeping workers in region safe and healthy, Ahmed El Hadidi advised delegates that more needs to be done.
“To achieve this safety and health practitioners must ensure that middle management are on board,” said Mr El Hadidi, who works as a safety and health manager in Dubai. To do this, they must be shown how safety and health is an investment, not a cost.
He said: “As safety and health professionals we are the ones who can influence change. We must do something to remove any resistance to support from management. We must engage with them. What we must do is answer the question of what is in it for them. We must answer the why and we must do this by showing them the vision. Middle managers want to see a vision; they don’t want to see a function. If we don’t talk the language that people want to listen to we won’t get anywhere. They must see how it can boost revenue.”
The conference, the sixth of its kind, was held at The Address Dubai Marina on 29 April 2015. Dozens of delegates attended from across the Middle East and further afield.
They heard speeches from IOSH’s President Ian Harper on successful benchmarking and from Michael Huggins, health safety and environmental manager at The Public Authority for Electricity and Water in Oman.
The conference was followed by the UAE Branch’s annual general meeting. At the meeting Mr El Hadidi was announced as the new Branch chair, replacing Maisaa Nasrallah.
The event came a year since the branch was formed. Maisaa said: “The branch had experienced a successful first year, working with several organisations such as the Abu Dhabi Environment, Health and Safety Center (OSHAD) – the conference’s platinum sponsor.”
She said: “We have seen more members join. We are in a good position now compared to around ten years ago when IOSH first started its activities in the Middle East. These members are able to network at events such as this conference and find out new ways of going about things.”
“Improvements have included more regulations and legislation being put in place, which is great to see. We still have some way to go but I feel further improvements are very achievable,” she added.