Flouting safety norms risk workers’ lives

By Samuel Kutty — MUSCAT: APRIL 15 – Companies failing to ensure safety of workers will face punishment, warned a senior official at the Ministry of Manpower. The official was reacting to the accident at a construction site in Mabela, where three workers lost their lives and another sustained serious injuries, last week. “The incident is being probed by authorities concerned. If there are any violations and breaches of safety standards, the offenders will be booked and penalised”, the official said.
Safety of workers is one of the responsibilities of the ministry and it is done by reviewing legislation periodically, he said.
“Necessary legal and punitive action will be taken against those who fail to abide by the provisions,” he said. “Officials from the ministry carry out inspections to ensure that companies comply with health and safety standards”.
According to Article 15, the employer must take all necessary actions to provide adequate protection for the workers’ safety while at the workplace.
In dealing with the various hazards at the workplace, rules provide a list of measures which employers need to implement to minimise occupational accidents, he pointed out.
According to Shahswar al Balushi, Chief Executive Officer of Oman Society of Contractors, there should not be any compromise on safety at construction sites.
“Contractors and employers should abide by the rules relating to safety even if the clients resist steps to ensure safety at the work places to cut costs,” he said.
With regard to the punishment relating to lack of safety measures, Shahswar said that more clarity is required as far as the punitive steps being taken against the offenders. According to Mohammed al Khaldi, Board Member of General Federation of Oman Trade Union, there should not be any compromise regarding workers’ safety.
“Standards of occupational health and safety should be maintained at places of work. There should be proper safety measures. Making them work in an unsafe environment is an unpardonable offence,” he said.
Not all construction sites flout safety regulations.
Top grade companies follow health and safety measures, providing their workers with necessary safety equipment.
“Workers at smaller construction firms face more risks, deprived of any form of safety equipment,” said Haneef, a social worker.
According to Haneef, there are many health hazards that result from the negligence of health and safety measures.
“Sometimes they fall from heights or something falls on them leading to fatal injuries. Anything can happen at such sites if construction workers are not made aware of the dangers and not provided the right gear for safety,” he said.
He opined that there should be more teeth to the laws to deal with employers who do not follow the safety measures.