Employment generation: The initiative mandates all businesses, organisations and institutions operating in the Sultanate, with at least 50 employees on their rolls, to appoint Omani HSE Advisors in their respective organisations.
A novel initiative aimed at establishing an exclusive cadre of Omani Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) professionals in the Sultanate has the potential to create in excess of 8,000 jobs for nationals when the programme is fully rolled out.
The initiative is the brainchild of the Oman Society for Petroleum Services (OPAL), the umbrella grouping of energy industry businesses and stakeholder organisations in the Sultanate. It is one of several programmes supported by OPAL and backed by the Ministry of Labour, among others, to help create meaningful and rewarding career opportunities for Omanis in various economic sectors.
According to OPAL CEO Abdulrahman al Yahyaei, the broad outlines of the initiative were unveiled by the Ministry of Labour at a recent media briefing. It mandates all businesses, organisations and institutions operating in the Sultanate, with at least 50 employees on their rolls, to appoint Omani HSE Advisors in their respective organisations.
“We approached the Ministry with this proposal which, if suitably implemented, will not only enhance HSE compliance at the workplace, but importantly, it will pave the way for the creation of thousands of positions for qualified Omanis,” said Al Yahyaei.
“Given that only a handful of organisations currently have full-time HSE Advisors, we envision that the programme has the potential to employ as many as 8,000 Omanis over the next couple of years.”
Speaking to the Observer, Al Yahyaei said a high-level committee with representatives from a number of stakeholder bodies will oversee the delivery of this initiative. Represented on the committee are officials from the Ministry of Labour, Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) and the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (Madayn), besides OPAL.
While preparations for the roll-out of the programme have already commenced, it will come into force only from January 1, 2022, said the official. This is to allow for Omani candidates to acquire the requisite competencies and qualifications to offer their services as HSE Advisors, he explained.
As part of their remit, HSE Advisors will be responsible for implementing and maintaining a regimen encompassing all aspects of employee health, workplace safety and environmental integrity.
This includes the formulation of policies and measures to prevent accidents and injuries, identify and control hazards, organise fire and safety drills, promote workplace hygiene, oversee sound waste management, and ensure full compliance with environmental regulations.
In a pandemic of the Covid-19 kind, their role will also include enforcement of social distancing protocols and infection prevention.
As the Sultanate’s reference point for HSE-related National Occupational Standards (NOS), OPAL will play a key role in preparing competency programmes to qualify interested Omani candidates for careers as HSE Advisers.
Given the critical nature of the tasks that HSE Advisors will be called upon to perform, only suitably qualified candidates, duly certified by OPAL’s Sector Skills Unit, will be able to apply for these positions, Al Yahyaei stated.
The Sector Skills Unit has developed a special HSE apprenticeship programme extracted from an approved National Occupational Standard that’s suitable for all sectors.
The use of any other programme for the entry-level is just a waste of time, effort and money, Al Yahyaei noted. Thus, with effect from January 1, 2022, expatriates holding positions as HSE Advisors will have to make way for Omanis when their visas come up for renewal.
Furthermore, businesses and organisations with 50 or more employees that presently lack a dedicated HSE Adviser will be required to create these positions regardless of the nature of their operations.
Longer term, the initiative will not only support the creation of fulfilling jobs for Omanis, but will also contribute to higher standards of workplace safety and employee well-being in the Sultanate, he added.