Leading construction companies have found a new line of business offering corporate manpower training on health and safety not just for the construction field, but also other sectors including the food industry, hotels and retail chains.
ETA Consultancy, an independent registered company under the ETA Ascon Group, better known for property development and contract work, has been aggressively marketing corporate health, safety and environmental (HSE) training courses approved by the UAE Ministry of Labour.
Industry specialists said many companies in the region had to pay large fees to foreign training experts who had to be flown in for short-term courses. During a period of economic slowdown and delay in large projects, there is enough money to be made in the corporate training market and big construction companies are looking for international partners to set up HSE training centres.
Marimuthu Kamarajan, General Manager, ETA Consultancy, said: "We started the training consultancy business initially to train our own staff since ETA Ascon Star Group is a diversified business group and employs about 45,000 employees. Now we don't have to spend much money for training companies. ETA Consultancy, in collaboration with our business partners in the US and UK, is offering professional HSE training solutions to companies in the construction field, food industry and oil and gas sector."
The company is an approved training provider for the Construction Industry Training Board site safety plus courses in the Middle East and training courses from the Scaffold Training Institute, US; the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), UK; and other leading international training providers.
Nakheel, under Dubai World, which employs about 50,000 people in 100 countries, is also offering many HSE training facilities for companies not only in the construction field, but also in other areas such as the food industry and retail business. The Health, Safety, Quality and Environmental Training Centre under Nakheel offers a wide range of courses from accident investigation and accident management skills to stress control and conflict resolution and personnel safety courses.
Saeed Al Semaihi, Training Manager, Corporate Health and Safety Design and Development, Nakheel PJSC, said in the company brochure: "Work-related stress is on the rise and employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace. This is not possible in an environment where potential for conflict and aggression are high. The one-day course provides employees with a foundation in conflict resolution and personnel safety when confronted with confrontational behaviour," he said.
Apart from training on working safely in high-rise buildings and first-aid security, Nakheel is also offering a food safety course for employees in the food manufacturing and retail sectors. Another food safety course offers training to people working in catering, hotels, pubs, restaurants, supermarkets and retail chains, food and drink manufacturers, hospitals, care homes, schools and even prisons. Nakheel is also offering specialised training for professionals in the food manufacturing sector.
Nattasha Freeman, President, IOSH, a leading European body for health and safety professionals with more than 34,000 members worldwide, said IOSH is working closely with the UAE Government to improve workplace safety standards.
"The global economic slowdown has already led to major job losses and cutbacks. But there is a link between safety and financial success that employers need to recognise. Tendering for contracts has become more cut-throat now and there is less work as a result of the economic downturn. Often the lowest tenders win," said Freeman.
And cuts in health and safety measures may occur. "This will result in contractors working in poorer conditions and being asked to carry out unsafe acts," she warned.
IOSH's Middle East office, which was opened in 2006, has currently more than 500 members.
"Health and safety is such an integral part of business that it needs to be managed by experts, qualified and experienced to give the right advice," she added.