ABU DHABI // Labourers working on high-rise buildings in the capital are putting their lives at risk by not using proper safety harnesses.
During site visits, inspectors from Abu Dhabi Municipality found men working at height on unfinished floors, temporary platforms, on scaffolding or in cradles used for cleaning windows at towers under construction without safety equipment to prevent them from falling.
According to the municipality, 52 construction and contracting companies and consultants were fined in the first quarter of this year for breaches of building safety rules.
“Some violations witnessed during the inspection included working on high-rise buildings without a harness and proper safety equipment,” said a municipality spokesman.
Companies found to be in breach of safety rules face fines of between Dh10,000 and Dh40,000 depending on the offence, and construction sites can be shut down. As well as safety on site, companies must also ensure the safety of passers-by and adjacent buildings
Men working in construction around Abu Dhabi said they were satisfied with safety standards and that companies payed attention to their well-being.
“Now safety steps are exercised more efficiently than before and we can’t enter the site without putting on helmets and safety jackets,” said Vikram Setu, a Nepalese construction worker employed at a site in Mussaffah.
“Generally safety rules are followed on site but if any unfortunate thing has to happen, it will happen. Nobody can stop it.”
Indian welder Ramesh Katihar said accidents occurred when labourers were working under pressure and in extreme heat during summer.
“Working under pressure is bad. Mostly things go wrong when workers toil in the heat and work in tension, then they make mistakes and accidents occur.
“For safety there are plenty of rules but there are always some lapses at the site,” Mr Katihar said.
Bangladeshi Mohesenul Haque said labourers were often put under pressure to meet construction deadlines.
“Working under pressure is risky, but we have no option but to work in any conditions.”
A fire at the under-construction Fountain Views Towers close to Dubai Mall this month highlighted the need for strict safety rules on building sites. Four people were rescued from the tower after the blaze started on a fifth-floor parking level being used to store construction materials.
Also this month, inspectors visited building sites in Al Khalidiya on the western part of Abu Dhabi Island to encourage safe working conditions.
In August last year 13 people were injured and hundreds of workers and hotel guests moved to safety when a fire broke out in an unfinished building in Al Zahiyah.
Several cases of scaffolding coming away from buildings and collapsing have also been reported in the capital in recent years while in February in Ajman, 12 vehicles were damaged after scaffolding fell from a construction site on Sheikh Khalifa Road in Al Nuaimiya.
Also in February, high winds were blamed after a crane toppled over on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, injuring one person and damaging a hotel and several vehicles.