The total value of active construction projects across the GCC reached US$2.4 trillion in September. Estimates put the number of projects requiring work at height at 72% of the 21,000+ sites, and with 2018 expected to see construction activity increase even further, it raises the question as to whether contractors are ready to meet these needs in terms of trained and competent manpower.
Work at height is widely recognised as the most high-risk activity in construction, and remains the leading cause of serious injuries (48%) and fatalities (30%) in global construction. Over the past few decades MEWPs (Mobile Elevating Work Platforms) have established themselves as the most efficient, effective and safest method of working at height, but even as technology, innovation and best practice develops, global statistics for falls from height remain stubbornly high.
Recent IPAF (International Powered Access Federation) data for 2016 showed that of a total of 206.1 million days’ operation of MEWP machines worldwide in 2016, the number of reported MEWP related fatalities was 66 – a fatal injury rate (FIR) of 0.032. IPAF’s investigations showed that these accidents are most often caused by management failings or operator error, almost all of which could be avoided, or at least mitigated, by training.
Tim Whiteman, CEO of IPAF said: “By focussing on good practice and employee training, companies can help ensure fewer people are injured or killed when operating MEWPs”, a fact recognised by GCC governments and organisations, including the UAE Government and Aramco, both of which mandated that an operator training, such as the IPAF.
Rapid Access, the leading provider of IPAF training in the Middle East, have helped grow the number of IPAF trained operators by 140% over the past two years. Mike Palmer, QHSE Manager for Rapid, with over 20 years’ industry experience, said: “When it comes to working at height, choosing the correct equipment is only the first step, ensuring the training and competence of the operator, as well as those involved in planning and supervising, is critical to ensure safety on site.”
“No matter what the industry, all workers should be covered by a culture of care. The onus is on employers to ensure they have robust management systems in place to prevent workers from coming to harm. This includes the provision of adequate training”
In 2016 Rapid Access trained over 2,500 IPAF licenced operators, and as the awareness of health and safety continues to grow across the GCC, Rapid has expanded its range of work at height training and expects to deliver another record breaking year for 2017.
“The growth in training numbers across the Middle East is a great sign of how seriously businesses in the GCC are taking their corporate responsibility. Rapid Access has continued to invest in its training proposition and I’m confident we can fulfil any working at height training requirement”, Mike added.