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Independent occupational safety authority to be set up by Ministry

ILO and the UAE’s Ministry of Labour & Social Affairs collaborate to form ‘Authority for Occupational Safety and Health’

The Ministry of Labour & Social Affairs is set to develop an independent occupational health and safety body according to a source at the ministry. The ministry, in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation last week outlined details of a project to set up an independent authority called the ‘Authority for Occupational Safety and Health’.

The move comes on the back of the ministry’s promise to further enhance its protection of employees rights and to guarantee worker safety. The independent authority will also monitor the occupational health and safety of workers in the public and private sectors.

“The authority, in cooperation with other parties, will assist in developing measures undertaken by the ministry to protect workers against occupational hazards and work related accidents, in addition to monitoring workplace environment,” said the source.

In terms of occupational health laws and regulations set by the government, there are already several laws and regulations covering this sector. Article 5 of the Federal Labour Law 8 of 1980 stipulates that employers have an obligation to their employees in the event of occupational accidents and work-related illness. This act also specifies instructions for compensation regarding work-related accidents. Federal Labour Law 32 of 1982 also stipulates the requirements needed to protect workers from occupational hazards.

However, the welfare of workers will now be monitored at three occupational health centres in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Dubai, which are headed by medical specialists in occupational medicine and hygiene.

These centres, which are part of the Central Preventive Medicine Department, are equipped with instruments to monitor many environmental hazards, including noise, ionising, radiation, lighting, temperature and relative humidity and other investigate work-related pathologies. They are also responsible for collecting relevant statistics on occupational accidents throughout the UAE.

A spate of accidents and near misses on construction sites around the UAE recently means that the new health and safety authority should be welcomed by the regions labourers.

“It’s good for the industry and if it ensures the safety of construction workers on sites then it has to be a good thing. It also shows the ministry is serious about occupational health and safety, which is good to know,” said Sohail Vakil, recruitment manager, Al Vakil Recruitment Services.

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