The collapse of a construction crane at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, which killed more than 100 people days before the hajj pilgrimage has put a spotlight on construction Health & Safety laws in the kingdom. The question is whether enough is being done to ensure that internationally recognised Health & Safety standards are followed in Saudi Arabia.
An investigative commission had concluded that the powerful Saudi Binladin Group was in part responsible for the tragedy. Saudi Press Agency said the company had not ‘respected the norms of safety’ at the site.
The scale of the disaster and the concerns it raises about the lack of Health & Safety checks on-site has prompted the kingdom to look more seriously at the standards of Health & Safety on construction sites in the country.
“Health & Safety needs to be embedded in the ethos of all companies working on a project, no matter where it is, which is why a great deal of our focus is on aiding the entire project team to take a collaborative approach,” explains Rob Cooling, Head of Health & Safety at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff Middle East.
Since the ruling of the mid-day work ban was made and adhered to, in general, it is believed that in terms of Health & Safety, a similar implementation should occur, by ensuring rules and regulations are followed on-site and procedures that govern Health & Safety are actually being implemented.
Violators of the mid-day work ban are fined SAR 10,000 ($2,665 / £1746) while some companies could also be forced to shut down temporarily or permanently depending upon the gravity of violations.
Putting employees, customers and others at risk by not following the rules can amount to a criminal offence, with the potential for substantial fines for the company, and fines and/or imprisonment for individual directors and employees.
The approach to Health & Safety must be rigorous. It’s important that risks are identified and actively managed.