Random tests for service sector staff

MUSCAT, April 22 – As part of the government’s efforts to ensure maximum safety at workplaces, employees in certain service sectors will have to face random medical checks. According to a decision issued by Shaikh Abdullah bin Nasser al Bakri, Minister of Manpower, on Sunday, a new article has been added to the regulation on occupational safety and health for establishments subject to the present Labour Law. “Employers in establishments including oil and gas, ports — both sea and air, electricity and water should conduct random periodic medical examinations for their workers to ensure that they do not use any drugs, psychotropic substances, or alcoholic beverages,” said the statement quoting Article 24.

The employer must take measures to ensure that the work sites are free of such materials, adds the Article. While welcoming the ministerial decision, Tahseen Ali, General Manager, Training at Safety Technical Services, said, “It is a step in the right direction.” He said that efforts should also be made to create more awareness among employees about the use of drugs in any form at any place. According to Tahseen, all the transport sectors should be brought under the purview of the new law. As an employee performing safety-sensitive functions in the transportation industry, he is responsible for providing a safe work environment for his co-workers and the travelling public.

“Creating a safe work environment not only means following established work rules, but also following the rules on drugs or any other narcotic intake or its storage,” he said. The new decision by the ministry is based on the Labour Law promulgated by Royal Decree No 35/2003 and the Regulations on Occupational Safety and Health Regulations in establishments subject to the Labour Law promulgated by Ministerial Decision No 286/2008.

SAMUEL KUTTY