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Site accidents dominate figures

Report by Bahrain group claims that 66% of all workplace injuries in 2005 occured in the country’s construction sector

Two-thirds of all workplace injuries in Bahrain last year occurred on construction sites, according to a survey by the General Organisation for Social Insurance (Gosi).

Some 1,600 labourers were hurt out of a total of 2,398 injuries across all sectors, mainly because of unsafe scaffolding and a lack of attention to proper safety regulations, said Labour Ministry occupational guidance specialist Mariam Al Ansari.

She admitted that many companies were cutting corners and ignoring safety precautions to save money, often at the expense of their employees.

The figures show that a total of 70,000 people are employed in the building and construction industry in Bahrain, three-quarters of whom are Asian.

“Many employers and supervisors resent safety regulations as a waste of money, but they need to understand that these precautions are really an investment in the company’s favour,” said Al Ansari.

“Safety measures ensure increased productivity and provide a suitable environment for the workers to give their best. The costs incurred from structural or bodily damage are quite significant compared to what would be spent on safety precautions.”

Below-standard scaffolding and heat exhaustion are the two biggest workplace dangers in Bahrain. “A lot of the time the scaffolding is used without wooden planks to walk on, the workers do not wear harnesses and there are no safety railings of any kind,” added Al Ansari.

The survey revealed that while construction sites were the most dangerous workplaces, tripping, slipping and falling accounted for the largest number of work-related injuries last year.

In 2005, 686 people were injured by tripping, slipping and falling, accounting for 28.61% of all injuries, while falling objects caused 654 (27.72%) of reported workplace injuries.

Although many of the injuries were described as extreme, only 1% resulted in a death. However, 5% of victims were left disabled.

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