Improving labor inspection services and OHS concerns in UAE and for small business is a growing concern. The paper looks into the growth of small business in Qatar and the need for strong OHS laws for workers and owners. There is a need to educate business about the worker’s rights and responsibilities as well as the responsibilities of the employers. The paper also looks into the demographics of the employee in UAE and the challenges faced by the state for occupational health and safety improvement in Qatar. The rate of industrialization has significantly increased over the past decades in Qatar and comparatively, we find fewer studies conducted to investigate the occupational hazards and there is limited knowledge & practice among the working population relevant to these hazards.
The purpose of the paper is to look into the current occupational health and safety meaning in Qatar and what the Administration of Labour Inspection is doing in this direction. Thankfully, due to the growing awareness, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is revising the laws and making regular inspection visits to enterprises of all sizes and sectors, to make sure that OSH legal provisions are complied with. Qatar has recently experienced growth in the sector of small businesses and it is all the more4 essential to see if OHS laws are followed by the business owners for their employees. OHS Act and laws for small businesses in Qatar as well as the concerns of workers and owners are looked into. There are certain detect and indirect cost for businesses related to Occupational health and safety, that the organization has to bear. The essay explains how and why these regulations are very essential for the success of the business. It is very important that the rights and responsibilities of OHS Act are understood by the workers and the employers. In order to implement the rules and regulations of OHS, it is essential for the employers and workers to work together. Employee demographics in UAE are looked into and so are the deaths due to occupational injuries in the Qatar. The recent development sonly point to the challenges of occupational health and safety improvement in Qatar that are discussed in detail in the essay. The advantages of OHS committee as well as the suggested committee models are discussed.
- Definition of occupational health and safety
- Definition of small businesses in Qatar
- OHS laws for small businesses in Qatar
- Concerns of workers and owners
- Occupational health and safety cost for businesses
Rights and Responsibilities under OHS Act
- Worker responsibilities
- Worker rights
- Employer responsibilities
OHS for Small Businesses
- Employee demographics
- Morbidity and death of occupational injuries in the Qatar
- Challenges of occupational health and safety improvement in Qatar
Guide to OHS Committees
- Benefits of OHS committee
- Suggested committee models
Summary and solutions
List of References
OHS Concerns for Small Business in Qatar Introduction
Definition of Occupational Health and Safety With the health care costs rising at a steady rate, and a significant portion of these due to the -the-job injuries, the companies continue to invest in good safety programs in order to prevent those accidents among workers. Occupational health has been viewed strictly as dealing with injuries and illnesses that arise from the job or at the workplace. The worker can file complaints if he falls on the slippery floors in his office or develops job - carpal tunnel syndrome due to word processing.
Nebosh Course in Dubai (Green W group. 2013)
The above chart shows how the management practices play an important role in the evaluation and continuous evaluation of occupation health and safety at workplace. The purpose of workplace health and safety is to promote the safety of the employees at work and get rid of the controlling hazards in the workplace. The new definition for occupational health focuses on the safety of every worker and instilling a responsibility for safety among the employers as well as the workers. There are regular inspections and consultations for resolving health and safety issues at workplace. There are penalties and fines put in place for not implementing health and safety legislation at the workplace. The occupational health and safety principles differ from state to state. However, the basic guidelines and the intentions are same and that is to invest in good safety programs and education in order to prevent on-the-job injuries.
Periodic appraisals on health risks and safety hazards provide continuing monitoring of health as well as educate employees about following good practices for their safety. There is a need to be very proactive in the matter and follow preventive approach to safety at the work place. Making the right efforts also sends a positive message to the employees that the organization or the company cares about their health and safety. The efforts and the results need to be monitored over time and see if they are making an important impact on those risks. The results will help ne decide if those efforts are heading in the right direction (Minter, 2004).
Occupational health and safety ensures safe working conditions by enforcing certain standards and offering workplace safety training. The main objective is to protect the rights and safety of workers and hold employers answerable for safe workplaces. Businesses and organizations in Qatar too are getting aware of the importance of Occupational health and safety measures and the government is malign efforts to ensure that all safety regulations at workplaces are in place so as to reduce chances of accident or injury (Kelly and Chicken, 2014).
Definition of small businesses in Qatar
The economy in Qatar has been very impressive in the past few couple of years and has grown by an impressive rate of 20%. It is not just those massive billion-dollar deals that grab the headlines, but also the smaller businesses that are helping to fuel growth. According to the economists, it is the small businesses that are making big in Doha, according to the latest reports. The Qatar Industrial Development Bank (QIDB) too has played a major role in promoting the local small and medium enterprises and already, many of them are functioning successfully. The local small enterprises often rely on marketing company for technology and support. In order to review business size and identify small businesses. There are certain size regulations to define whether a business is "small" and thus eligible for certain government programs that are reserved for “small business” concerns (Oxford Business Group, 2014). Qatar’s citizens setting up in business is gaining pace, as the government moves to increase the private sector’s contribution to the national economy through regulatory changes and stronger support for entrepreneurs. Although the economy still remains dominated by oil and gas, the privates sectors too are making their place in their contribution to GDP. One of the main visions of Qatar government is to build a more varied economic base forms by 2030. The long-term development plan and strategy is to boost the economics of the country. The majority of the international workforce gets employment in the construction industry.
Qatar’s leadership has already started several initiatives to support local entrepreneurship and especially among the younger generation. Small business development is particularly targeted for investment and an important milestone for Qatar will be entrepreneurial growth. Some banks are already guaranteeing up to 85% of commercial loans, and more banks here are following suit. The financial services have been particularly strengthened in Qatar for smaller businesses. There are subsidized consultancy services for audits and accounts as additional support for businesses.
The younger Qataris are particularly being focused on by the government’s programs, aiming for SME growth. The objective is to help the younger generation identify their career path and move them in the right entrepreneurship resources. There are several NGO operating in Qatar that targets youth with an emphasis on small business start-ups. A recent report states that entrepreneurial motivation is growing among the younger generation and Qataris have been found to carry the highest business drive in UAE (Hancock, 2011).
OHS Laws For Small Businesses In Qatar OHS laws are meant to describe precautions and steps that are essential to protect workers as well as visitors from occupational hazards. There are specific decrees in the legal document that regulates obligations in case of an accident at the workplace. OHS laws for small businesses in Qatar are getting more defined and organized, thanks to the growing awareness. Still, a lot more needs to be done in this direction. The OSH related laws are specific in regard to hazards and are more general when related to the obligations of employers and workers. The inspection team is made of a number of administrative officials that are specified by a government decision and assistance of other specialists in the different specializations may be called whenever necessary ( EAD, 2009).
The modernized Human Resources Law in Qatar came into effect in 2009 and it assures the commitment of the state towards its employees and maintains a safe and fair working environment for them. The Human Resources Law applies to civil servants, government agencies, public institutions as well as small businesses. However, the employees need to be at least 18 years of age in order to be covered by this law. The law offers the training, development and rehabilitation opportunities in ruder to enhance employee skills and offer him a good working environment. The focus is also shifting more on his safety at work place. The Right System to Eliminate Occupational Health and Safety Risks
Occupational health and safety issues are a significant focus of Qatar's Human Resources Law. All workers and employees can claim up to one year of sick leave and with complete salary and benefits. Promotions are based on work performance and there are special rewards and recognitions for those workers who have shown excellence in their employment.
Concerns of Workers and Owners Occupational health and safety laws require immediate medical assistance and access to first aid, in case of an accident or injury at workplace. The employees are entitles to fair workers' compensation as well as return to work rehabilitation. It is the employer’s responsibility to maintain a safe workplace, allow workers' compensation insurance and offer complete protection from financial hardship in the event of a workplace injury. He needs to check for workers' compensation liability as per the OH&S laws in Qatar. Many developing countries such as Qatar also introduce radical alterations in the life style and if these small businesses and industries are not well designed, the adequate safety measures are not adopted. This can lead to contrary health consequences as majority of employees and workers do not have the right education and information related to OHS laws. Thus, they are exposed to higher risks and hazards at work place and are not even aware of them. The business owner and relevant authorities are concerned about the health hazards and the need for implementing effective safety measures. Although the legislation has been in place got many years, there is a stronger need of implementation that may vary significantly across the industrial sector (Ahmed and Smith, 2010). It is the responsibility of the employer or the owner to educate his workforce or the employers about any hazards at the workplace. The workers should listen to those instructions carefully and follow them in order to protect themselves. It is the worker’s responsibility to participate in any training provided by his employer on Occupational Health And Safety. The worker may also get a booklet, poster or manual form his employer that describes how to work safely.Occupational Health And Safety Cost For Businesses Every business in Qatar, big or small, has to incur occupational health and safety costs. There is a need to implement strong methods for recognizing the impact of inspection programs on the work-related injury and illness. The developed economies show the economic burden of preventable occupational illness and injury.
There are several stream of thoughts regarding the role of regulatory enforcement in worker health protection. Some feel that due to the growing competition among small businesses, the employers will naturally make the right level of investment in occupational health and safety in ruder to safeguard their workers. Others debate that in the absence of an unregulated market, the firms will not invest sufficiently in worker health protection. Regulatory intervention for occupational health and safety for businesses seems to be thus justified and correct market failure (OSHME, 2014). Injury That Can Occur In The Workplace (Small Biz, 2013) The above picture clearly shows the kinds of injuries and risks the worker is exposed to at his workplace. It is much more sensible for the businesses to invest in occupational health and safety procedures. Or, the workplace injuries and illnesses can have a major impact on a business. The costs of workplace injuries and illnesses for some businesses can turn out to be massive and the direct costs may include medical expenses, compensation payments along with costs for legal services. The indirect costs include lost productivity, replacement of the employees, and implementation of corrective actions and repairs of the damaged equipment. It has been seen that in case of a very severe accident, such loss of a main worker in a small firm, or even fire, to consequences could well lead to the end of the business altogether.There are other unfavorable consequences to consider about too. Any serious injuries due to negligence of Occupational Health And Safety measures could mean loss of reputation for the business and can leave a negative impact on the work force. Small businesses generally have to maintain a high competence and reliability profile to get more clients. By having a good health and safety performance record can be very positive for their growth and success.
Rights and Responsibilities under OHS Act
Worker Responsibilities OHS Act ensures the compliance of companies and businesses with occupational health and safety rules. The Ministerial Service Council in UAE made certain recommendations and states that the new body should play an administrative role for ensuring a safe work environment for the workers that is free of occupational hazards. The worker must familiarize himself with the workplace legislation and must ask supervisors if they do not understand the legal standards for safety at workplace. He should report an unsafe condition or situation immediately to their supervisor and make sure that the process is documented.
Worker rights Occupational health and safety measures entail certain rights for the workers that they need to be aware of. Every worker or employee should report all unsafe conditions and hazards at his work place. He should follow safe work procedures carefully and make use of personal protective equipment when necessary. He has the right to know about potential hazards, as well as participate in making the workplace more safe and healthy. He can work with the employer or supervisor to work as a safety representative. He has every right to refuse unsafe work and safeguard his own health first.
In case the worker finds any unsafe condition or situation at his workplace, he or she should inform the supervisor right away. The safety committee should be called immediately for an opinion is one is unable to resolve the problem. The worker concerned should be present when the officer is called in to make an inspection and determination on the occupational health and safety hazard. The employer has the right to allocate the worker any alternate work or any other worker too can be asked to do the work that was refused. Every worker should make use of the protective equipment and the clothing supplied to him at his workplace and follow all safety instructions given by the employer to protect him against work place hazards.
Employer Responsibilities It is the complete responsibility of the employer to offer a safe environment as well as satisfactory preventive and protective equipment for his workers at work place. The purpose is to protect employees against the dangers of accidents and occupational diseases that might arise in the working conditions. These hazards could be anything, like for example, use of fire, or use of certain equipment, chemicals and machines at work place. The employer needs to provide satisfactory preventive and protective equipment and follow all Regulations, guidelines issued under the Occupational health and safety measures (Sulayam, 2010).
It is the duty of the employer to make sure that the detailed instructions regarding Occupational health and safety that are given to his workers are given in the right language and medium that makes it easy for them to understand. Such instructions are generally in English, Arabic and in any another language that is easily understood by the worker. Every employer is also expected to provide first-aid boxes and other essential first-aid material depending on the nature of work in the firm or business. The employer must also ensure adequate safety and cleanliness in each workplace and make sure that the workplace is fitted with adequate lighting, ventilation, drinking water and other basic amenities, according to the standards laid down by the UAE. He needs to maintain the workplace in a safe condition and offer the workers adequate information and facilities.
Employer Rights It is the duty of the Employers to find and correct safety and health problems in their business environment. Employer. The employers have great responsibilities to shoulder regarding health and safety of their employees at workplace. However, the employer also carries some rights. The employer has a right to carry out take out Insurance for the workers and keep all information and records that are relevant to the health and safety of his workers. The employer has the right to engage people carrying the right expertise and qualifications to offer advice on health and safety issues at the workplace. He has the right to maintain comprehensive program on occupational safety consistent with the industry standards. He needs to acquire, maintain, and require the use of safety equipment for the protection of his employees and jeep all the adequate records for proper evaluation.
OHS for Small Businesses
Employee Demographics Employee demographics in UAE and emirates state like Qatar show that 50% of employees or workers here are less than 29 years old. However, majority of the employees feel that their salaries are lower when compared to other parts of the world or other firms in the same industry. 33% of the workers belong to the age group- 30-39 and less than 5% are those that are above fifty. Those who work for full-time or more than 30 hours every week are 73%. One in four professionals in the Middle East claimed to be new employees as they’ve worked for less than a year with their employer or firm. About 26% of workers say they have been working for 1 to 2 years with the current employer.
Almost nine out of 10 workers here are expatriates and the employment figures also reveal a male-dominated work force. The new data revealed by the recent surveys show that the working-age population has grown by 7.2 per cent. Emirati women were scarcer and only 23.9 per cent are involved in active employment. Economists do point the women to be the untapped resource of economic growth in the UAE. The recent working conditions encourage the women to enter the workforce (Go gulf, 2013).
Morbidity And Death Of Occupational Injuries In The Qatar The employees and workers do high risk for injury while on the job in offices and businesses in Qatar. The fatality rate for younger workers has seen to rise and therefore all the more urgent need to out Occupational health and safety guidelines in place. The rate of nonfatal injuries has declined 19but the decline is not statistically significant. Public health and trade organizations in Qatar need to provide guidance to employers to help them get aware of their responsibilities so as to provide safer workplaces. The aim should be to remove or reduce injury hazards at the workplace and ensure that their workers have the necessary training and the essential personal protective equipment to perform their jobs safely. Fatalities And Incidents At Erisscons Operations Worldwide (Ericsson, 2014) In the above diagram, we can compare the major fatalities in the Erickson operations highlighted for Middle East with the rest of the countries in the world. We find transportation-related deaths most frequently recorded among all workers. The contact injuries unusually involve the worker being struck by or caught in by various tools, equipment, machinery, etc. The highest number of injuries were seen among workers occurred in the construction services. A systematic review of these injuries at workplaces were found to be associated with lack of job knowledge, the right training for Occupational health and safety, etc. All these aspects contribute to the increased risk among workers, who are still not aware of their legal rightsTraining programs are already on for occupational Health and Safety services for businesses and clients across Qatar, with a mission to deliver invaluable knowledge and expertise in the fields of operation for occupational health and safety. The idea is to introduce internationally benchmarked standards and offer flexible and innovative solutions as well as quality training in Industrial Safety, Health, Risk Management (DISS, 2014).
Challenges of Occupational Health and Safety Improvement In Qatar
Occupational health and safety developments across the United Arab Emirates, including Qatar are still at an early stage. The challenge of keeping workforces safe and secure has been an important issue that has been explored into at many of the Conference at the end of last year. The aim was to look into the best techniques to help health and safety professionals and how to put them into practice to meet the new challenges and issues. Many professionals got together at these one-day conferences to learn more about occupational health and safety and managing the risks of work place.
This is the first time that Qatar and other Middle East professionals in the UAE are specifically holding conferences that are aimed at health and safety. It has been seen to it that that talks, information and material provide is customized to fit the cultures and working practices in small businesses. Health and safety is a major concern for a thriving business and therefore, it is very important that the practitioners get aware about the latest techniques that can help them run their jobs and businesses in a cost-effective and efficient way. It is a challenge to overcome potential health problems, especially from sedentary work. The focus is on how to improve the working lives of people who live and work in Qatar (Anonymous, 2012). Cause Of Fatal Occupation Injuries In Abu Dhabi (HAAD, 2012)
UAE Ministry of Labour seems to be satisfied with the efforts focused on helping health and safety professionals in the area. Sharing those techniques can certainly improve working environments for businesses in the region in Qatar and one can see strengthening of their work with the wider community, as they get support from the government and other organizations. The aim is to push for even higher standards of occupational health and safety. A cross sectional study of different workers involved in small businesses were seen to come from different background and carry different demographic characteristics. They vary by age, education and country and carried different news and information on workplace hazards. It can be challenging to educate these workers towards the hazards as well as using the personal protective equipment at the workplace. The age of the workers can range from 19 to 66 years and they carry different work experience and attitudes.
Guide to OHS Committees
Benefits of OHS Committee OHS Committees or occupational health and safety committees are groups of worker and employer representatives who work together to identify health and safety problems at the work site and how to get rid of them. The primary aim of the committee is to make communication and participation easy on health and safety issues. An effective committee can play an important role in minimizing the losses and risks associated the Occupational Health and Safety. These laws have been made mandatory in all workplaces. Communication plays a key role in creating an effective health and safety system.
The OHS committee makes an important link between the worker and the people directing the workforce. A wide range of proficiency and experience assists with locating the hazards and finding solutions, as those health and safety issues are brought out in the open. The improved communication with the help of these committees brings helps in resolving the issues. By reducing those risks and accidents, there is a boost in the production and it also encourages a positive atmosphere in the workplace.
An effective OHS committee can raise awareness of health and safety at work-place and reduce the accidents. There is an extensive base of expertise and experience that is made available for solving problems and one enjoys better communication and co-operation. All workers and employees feel free to express their concerns and feel belonged (Workers Compensation, 2009).
Suggested Committee Models In different countries and markets, one will come across different committee models for occupational health and safety. There might be a chairperson, secretary and other offices involved in carrying out workplace inspections.
The occupational health and safety committee may have more than one chairperson, one from management and the other from worker representatives. They might even alternate chairing duties that may comprise of organizing the meetings, keep discussion related to occupational health and safety on track and how to stick to the agenda. The chairperson is also responsible for bringing consensus on the solution and ensuring recommendations when necessary in writing. It is the job of the committee to see that everyone gets an opportunity to share facts and their ideas. He is responsible for scheduling meetings; arranging the time, dates, and place. Abu Dhabi government has made it clear that occupational safety is not just restricted to a few sectors where hazardous materials. There is need to develop high competency models for individuals working in occupational health and safety and other workplaces of relevant fields. (Kader, 2012).
Secretary is the committee member and plays an important role in clarifying decisions. He notifies the members of meeting times and location and circulate reports. He keeps the past records of the meetings as well as the follow up by the committee. Where necessary, the Secretary clarifies the decisions that have been made regarding occupational health and safety.
The OHS committee is an advisory body and does not have the power to dictate changes. It cannot be held responsible for violations of the OH&S Act. The committee members undergo regular trainings for workplace inspection, injury prevention and accident investigation. These committees are most effective if they are sure about their role and is able to meet regularly. The basic health and safety procedures of workplace are the responsibility of supervisors. The committee sets its own rules of procedure but they must within the guidelines of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The number of members and the size of committee will depend on the size of the workplace. The members need to serve for a minimum of one year.
The purpose of workplace inspections is to recognize hazards and suggest remedial actions before an accident can occur. Discussions are carried out with workers in the area and a check list is maintained do ensure that everything has been inspected. How often will the inspections take place and who will carry them out is the prerogative of the committee. Occupational Health and Safety meeting should start and end on time or the members will start losing interest. It is essential to discuss the ongoing concerns and the progress made since the last meeting. The recommendations should be measurable, practical and doable.
Summary and Solutions
Occupational health and safety concerns for the small business in Qatar seem to get their rightful place. Thankfully, the government, the business owners as well as the employees seems to realize the hazards in their workplaces and the importance of tackling them at the root levels. Employers are taking keep interests on how to Employers and take the right steps to remove these hazards so as to ensure that their workers are completely safe. The workers too are given the requisite training and protective equipment so as to perform their jobs safely.
It is essential to identify workplace health and safety hazards and take the right measures to decrease risk for injury. The workers need to be aware of their rights and play active roles in workplace to identify injury hazards. It is the joint efforts of the employers and the employees that will help implement effective control strategies. The primary responsibility for workplace safety lies with employers and they need to make the required changes in work environments and workplace practices to improve worker safety. The responsibilities of the workers are to comply with employer policies and practices for safe work and identify any unsafe conditions that can later develop into a serious hazard at work place. Public health and safety practitioners and researchers too can contribute to by providing recommendations for the employers and the worker so as to make the working conditions safer (ILO, 2010) In order to control the hazards at work place, there is a strong need of education in occupational health and safety for the business owners as well as the owners. The right education and instructions can significantly reduce occupational health risks.
Cosntruction Worlkers In UAE
During these tough economic times and a cut throat competition, it is essential to invest in Occupational Health and Safety strategies and upgrade management systems and procedures accordingly. Hiring competent health and safety professionals can pay major dividends in the long run and boost the reputation of the firm. The focus should always be to focus on priority risk related to safety at work place, hazardous manual handling or tackling slips and trips, etc. The businesses will need to keep their eyes firmly on the health and safety of its work force. Whenever a business picks up, it will have to cope up with new challenges and competition. It is not a good idea to lose a worker due to an accident. The good part is that small businesses in Qatar are waking up to the importance of Occupational Health and Safety and realizing those potential dangers at workplace. For business continuity, it is essential to ensure workforce wellbeing. Controlling the risks to health and safe cannot be done successfully unless it is inextricably linked to action and in daily practice. The 2nd Qatar Petroleum Occupational Health (QPOH) Conference was held in 2013 and covered a vast range of topics in the field of occupational health management (QPOH, 2013). Directors and senior managers should follow visible management techniques to justify expectations and involve specialized workforce for Occupational Health and Safety measures.This is essential so as to spread the right knowledge, ideas and commitment among the workers as well as the employers.
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