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1 February 2013 11:38 am

30% of firms found violating safety standards

QNE
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Almost one third of the companies operating in Qatar do not fully comply with prescribed safety standards, checks conducted by the Inspection Department at the Ministry of Labour have found. The Labour Inspection Department (LID) visited as many as 46,624 sites including offices, workplaces and labour accommodations during 2012. “These visits revealed that around 30% of the companies working in Qatar had violated to some degree the safety standards,” Khalid Abdulla al-Ghanim, LID director, told local Arabic daily Arrayah. However, he said the overall outcome of the inspections was satisfactory, describing most of the shortcomings as minor and simple. Al-Ghanim said 377 companies were issued reports of violations, 231 of them on health and safety and 146 on administrative issues. During the last year, the department served 7,337 warning notices on different companies, asking them to redress the violations, 5,245 of them being safety and health issues and 2,092 work issues. The LID director said inspections were carried out basically on two grounds – periodical checks to ensure compliance with the labour rules or surprise visits based on complaints received from workers. “Regarding regular periodical inspection, it can be said that more than 90% of the companies visited were found to be complying with the law regarding work issues such as timely payment of salaries, penalty regulations and work regulations. Also, 70% of the companies were found to be following the safety standards.” He explained that companies with a poor track record and a history of labour complaints were targeted for unannounced inspections. “The inspectors make surprise visits to such companies and ask their managements to produce salary rolls of workers, their files and other records. Inspectors double check with the employees to make sure that they receive the salaries mentioned in their employment contracts”. Al-Ghanim said that his department had teams specialised in inspection and creating awareness. The latter visits companies twice a month to instruct them about administrative inspection procedures and occupational safety standards. He also stressed the efforts of LID in ensuring adequate accommodation for workers. “Many companies hurry to fix their violations after the inspection. The standards for healthy accommodation stipulate that gas pipes should be covered and located outside the kitchen. The kitchen should be well equipped and have ceramic floor tiles. Also, toilets should be well-maintained and adequate. Other standards include proper ventilation, lightening.” According to the LID director, employers can put up only four workers in a room with a built-in area of 160 sq ft. He said that some companies were blacklisted and banned because they had no proper offices and the workers employed by them were given releases. The LID also runs campaigns to reduce risks at work sites. “If any potential risk is spotted, the inspectors notify the Civil Defence Department to deal with the situation.” Al-Ghanim said work-related injuries could be considered relatively small, taking into consideration the size of Qatar and its workforce. He said that currently there was no available statistics in this respect. He emphasised that LID enforced the Qatar labour law “that is in line with the international standards regarding work safety, working hours, leave, accommodation, salaries and various other conditions that stress the proper rights of workers”. The official said some inspections were made on demand made by other sections in the ministry. “Last year 5,868 visits were conducted on the demand of the Employment Department , 10,266 visits on demand of the Safety and Health Section and 2,842 checks on demand by the Recruitment Committee.” Training forum on safety procedures All companies in Qatar have to regularly submit their safety plans and the CVs of their safety staff to the Labour Inspection Department (LID) at the Ministry of Labour. LID holds a bi-weekly training forum on safety procedures at work sites and the other updates of the Ministry of Labour for company officials and representatives. “We meet with you to inform you about the requirements and guide you on how to conduct your business properly and safely,” said Khalid Abdulla al-Ghanim, LID director, yesterday addressing the participants at such a forum. Page 10 Gulf Times