Employee health and wellbeing requires the same focus as safety, IOSH President Craig Foyle told delegates at today’s Middle East Conference.
Opening the event in Abu Dhabi, Craig said it is “great to see” a determination across the region to ensure people’s health – both physical and mental – does not suffer because of work.
He highlighted a Memorandum of Understanding agreed earlier this year between the Dubai Health Authority and Standing Committee for Labour Affairs to enhance the health of labour workers as an example of this determination.
Mr Foyle went on to recognise that many “top organisations” already have effective health and wellbeing systems in place.
He said: “Our conference today is on the theme of health and wellbeing. It is vital that the health and wellbeing of workers is given the same prominence as their safety.
“It was great to hear that earlier this year the Dubai Health Authority and the Standing Committee for Labour Affairs had signed a Memorandum of Understanding. Among its aims is to enhance the healthcare of labour workers.
“There is a clear determination in this region, and indeed across the world, that workers remain healthy and to make sure their health isn’t harmed by work activities. There are many examples of top organisations that are leading the way and recognising the importance of health and wellbeing. This is great to see.”
Mr Foyle went on to say that keeping workers fit and well brings business benefits.
He added: “In doing so, these organisations are reaping the rewards from having a motivated workforce and massively reduced absence levels. What organisation wouldn’t want this?”
Today’s event at the Yas Viceroy is IOSH’s ninth annual Middle East Conference. The event brings together health and safety professionals from across the region, along with business leaders.
Ms Maisa Al Bustani, Director of Medical Fitness Services Department at the Dubai Health Authority, was among special guests.
Following Mr Foyle’s opening address, other speakers include Dr Rob Cooling, who heads up health and safety at Expo 2020, and Stephen Smith, who is in charge of health and safety at Multiplex.
Charles Faulkner, an asbestos management specialist based in the UAE, joins Mr Foyle on stage to look at how organisations can ensure workers are not exposed to asbestos fibres, which can cause fatal cancer.
Asbestos is the focus of the fourth phase of IOSH’s No Time to Lose occupational cancer campaign. The Institution has produced free resources, including Arabic, Hindi and Urdu versions, to help organisations manage asbestos.
IOSH’s UAE Branch, which has more than doubled in size since the start of 2016 and currently has over 1,700 members, can help to inform, businesses how to protect workers from asbestos exposure and manage other health and safety risks.