MAKING SAFETY UNIFORM

UAE WORKWEAR AND SAFETY REGULATIONS AND THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY

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Uniforms are a crucial part of working environments and are found at all levels of the working world. While the aim of dress varies depending on the position and type of job, there are specific industries and roles that place either a greater emphasis on wearing uniforms, or require specific workwear due to conditions and health and safety needs.

Indeed, an essential type of uniform is one which provides on the job protection in more labour-intensive job positions. These are vital on two fronts. For the employees themselves, wearing the appropriate attire and equipment can provide significant and even necessary protection from dangerous aspects of their work, and from the perspective of the employers, the minimisation of risk and injury is likely the primary concern.

Protective work uniforms are now relatively commonplace, and one of the most straightforward examples that comes to mind is of hard hats used on construction sites. Easily recognisable and with a clear purpose, this simple piece of workwear has a highly distinct function. Due to its common usage and considerable availability, you would struggle to find a construction site that isn’t peppered with signage reminding all workers to wear their hard hats. While this form of workwear is very well known, there are many other types of jobs and job locations that demand the use of extra precautions, with the oil and gas industry being a prime example.

While there are regulations governing health and safety in the different Emirates of the UAE, the oil and gas industry may, depending on the Emirate, have different requirements and legislation regulating the industry and safety of the workers.

In this article, the health and safety regulations of the UAE, including specifically those which concern safety uniforms and workwear, shall be considered, as well as the implications and rules found explicitly in the nation’s oil and gas industry.

The regulations

The UAE is a nation which has attained global recognition in multiple areas; some of the most prominent of these include the oil and gas industry as well as the construction industry.

There was a time not too long ago that the UAE contained a considerable proportion of the world’s cranes and was growing at a rate rarely seen, even in the modern world of construction marvels. This was during the nation’s construction boom era, and things have since calmed as the country has become significantly more developed. To this day, however, it is unlikely that one could visit the country and not see a considerable number of projects being developed and constructed.

The oil industry is also one who is and has remained of the utmost importance for decades, and while the UAE is a relatively small country in terms of population and size, it is still among the global leaders in terms of oil production. Oil accounts for a notably significant proportion of the nation’s GDP and large amounts of funding go into facilities involved in the extraction, refining and production of the related products.

The essential Health and Safety regulations can be found in the UAE Labour Law (Federal Law Number 8 of 1980). While this legislation does not explicitly mention equipment and uniform related to health and safety, Chapter 5, Article 91, states that the employer must provide appropriate safety measures for hazards that may arise. This Article primarily concerns safety risks such as fire hazards for which sprinkler systems would be implemented and fire extinguishers provided in appropriate areas. While this is what is mentioned mainly, it can be assumed that the idea would extend to protective wear if such clothing or equipment should be required, and this is briefly mentioned in the Article. The employees must wear any protective equipment provided by employers.

Further to this, medical examinations must be provided to employees who work around hazardous equipment or hazardous situations. These must be provided regularly and by the employer. Through this safety procedure, any issues with health and safety measures that are utilised may be identified and fixed for the future.

Workers should also be made aware of any potential risks and dangers in their line of work. The employer must keep them informed and mindful before the employment even commences. The regulations do not only apply to employers and their duties. There are responsibilities on the employees also. Article 100, for example, states that the employees must act responsibly. The health and safety of employees can only be guaranteed if both parties seek to achieve the same result of a secure and accident-free workplace.

“the health and safety of employees can only be guaranteed if both parties seek to achieve the same result of a secure and accident-free workplace”

These are the basic rules found in the UAE Labour Law. All parties must behave appropriately, and equipment should be in place for any foreseeable incidents. While the regulation does not explicitly mention whether providing safety wear is a must, it can be assumed that if specific types of clothing are required under the working conditions to ensure and maintain employee health and safety, the employer must provide and make sure the employees are aware of the importance of the equipment. The employees are then required to wear what is offered to ensure their protection.

“all parties must behave appropriately, and equipment should be in place for any foreseeable incidents”

In addition, the UAE Federal Law Number 8 of 1980 concerning the Labour law mentions explicitly that the employer must create such an employee-friendly environment and provide adequate measures for their protection. Pursuant to that, the oil and gas companies must make sure that they comply with the different permits and regulations that are brought about by the municipalities in the UAE. Also, it is the duty and responsibility of the municipalities to conduct regular compliance checks at such platforms and rigs.

The OHSMS

The Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) is a set of rules and regulations for the nation which have been devised. The purpose and idea behind the provision were to have a standardised set of regulations concerning health and safety in the UAE.

The reason this standardisation came about and was seen as being necessary was because the UAE has experienced its massive growth in just a few years.

Having risen from the sands in just a few decades, the modern and highly advanced country we see now is still young. With this considered, the government and Supreme Council decided that a standard structure to follow across all the emirates was needed; this would allow for the maintenance of high standards and importantly, consistent standards, across all the Emirates.

Under the OHSMS system, all companies are required to form their health and safety strategies and frameworks covering all of the requirements presented under the OHSMS guidelines.

Section 5.4 of the regulation covers the critical areas of compliance, and one of the four crucial areas is that of creating a strategy to ensure a healthy and safe work environment is present and maintained at all times. Section 6.0 considers the OHSMS culture; this idea that the standardised set of regulations should become ordinary and a way of thinking within the UAE. If the concept of health and safety becomes significantly valued among the organisations present in the country and those rising throughout it, the rate of security for employees within UAE based companies will inevitably rise.

This OHSMS regulation does not particularly go into detail concerning the health and safety regulations themselves, as the purpose is more to give rise to the OHSMS system and culture. With it in place, however, the message and ideas are clear. Health and safety matters are considered deeply by the government, and they wish for the same to be done by all entities in the UAE in a standardised manner which can be over watched and managed with ease.

The oil and gas industry

The UAE has a considerable oil and gas industry and is among the global leaders in terms of production of both of these natural resources. It accounts for a substantial amount of the GDP of the nation and reliance on it is quite significant in many of the Emirates. The growth of the country, especially in the  early years can be attributed to the discovery of vast reserves, though in more recent years, the country has looked to diversify to secure its future and plan for a post-oil economy. It will be some time before the real diverse vision is obtained, and so until then, the oil and gas industry will be one of the most – if not the most – critical sectors.

With this being considered, it should come as no surprise that the general UAE regulations exist with the industry in mind. There are specific regulations in place explicitly concerning oil and gas such as the Federal Law Number 14 of 2017 concerning the trading of petroleum products and the Abu Dhabi Law Number 1 of 1988 which established the Supreme Petroleum Council. These laws do not include labour matters, however, and instead set about creating entities that manage the industry.

The regulations which concern other matters such as health and safety are those who generally relate to health and safety on a nation-wide scale. As such, the critical provision to consider would be the UAE Labour Law. With the generalised nature of the law, though, all of the concepts still stand and work in the specific industry with little to no issues arising as a result. Conclusion The oil and gas industry is renowned as one of the most dangerous sectors in which to work. The workmen in such a dangerous environment deserve better safety and protection, and as such the industry must adopt specific standards and regulations. These should mandate the usage of appropriate personal protective equipment, and that the workforce be educated on risks present and how to employ safe practices.

“mention of workwear and safety attire is not mentioned very extensively in the UAE regulations”

Mention of workwear and safety attire is not covered very extensively in the UAE regulations. There is a specific mention of it under Article 91 of the UAE Labour Law, and even here, the law relates to the responsibility of the employee to wear what is provided for their protection.

However, the general concepts of the Health and Safety regulations of the UAE cover workwear indirectly as the protection of workers is a crucial consideration. The appropriate steps should occur to ensure all predictable outcomes are accounted for, and plans exist to combat them.

Further to this, the long term health of all employees should be considered, and regular medical check-ups for those working in harsh and potentially dangerous situations are required. If any issues come to light as a result of the checks, the employer will be liable for preventable damages received by the employees and any necessary alterations or additions to the safety systems will have to arise.

Health and safety requires effort from all parties involved, and the employees must heed company rules and regulations. Responsible behaviour and basic self-preservation through the obeying of instructions is a must.

Finally, the OHSMS intends to introduce a culture of safety and security in the workplace. The regulation covers both private and government entities and so oil and gas related companies of all types would fall under this umbrella. If all the legislation is followed appropriately, a safe and secure workplace will exist across all industries.

Brought to you by

Tulika Kaul and George SK, STA

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