A majority of fire incidents are not properly investigated in Qatar due to lack of information and resources, according to a health and safety expert.
There has been an increase in the number of fire incidents in the last few years, and the causes for an overwhelming majority of these incidents remain unknown.
In 2012, the causes of over 1,000 reported fire cases were not known, with 83 fires caused by short circuit among the known cases.
“Statistics show by their own admission they don’t know. In 2012, the cause of 1,088 fires is unknown. The reason why it’s not known is maybe because they are too busy extinguishing fires and not resourced enough to investigate them,” Steve Wood, Director of Safety, Health and Environment, Middle East, Aecom, said yesterday.
He was speaking at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s (IOSH) flagship Middle East conference in Doha.
He said that the law number 9 of 2012 gave the Civil Defence more power to enforce fire and safety standards in the country but whether or not the department has enough resources to keep up with the number of structures being built in the country remains an issue.
In order to launch inspection regimes or prevention techniques and consequently legislate further on health and safety standards, it was important to understand why so many fire incidents were taking place in the country.
The safety standard of existing structures and buildings was another issue at the conference, which according to Wood, was in fact an opportunity for the Civil Defence to study and educate about the causes of fires.
The Civil Defence uses its own legislation, which is based on the US and UK health and safety standards. Although the two charters are similar in principle, they are open to interpretation by the clients. “Some clients may be go for the least strict requirements, thinking which ones are the least (standards) I need to comply,” Wood said, adding that it was important to adopt one standard and make it the single point of reference. He also said one of the lose ends of the law was that it did not issue a code of practice.
“If behind the law, they had issued a code of practice, saying this is the law, and by the way this is how you can do it, it would have been fantastic. It (the law) doesn’t go that little step,” he said. The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee also announced at the conference a worker’s charter that is being drafted in collaboration with important stakeholders in the country.
“The Qatar 2022 Worker’s Charter is a document that reflects this commitment and is a pledge to ensure a lasting positive legacy on the well-being of workers in Qatar by Q22 and all major programme and government stakeholders in the State,” Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee Technical Director Yasir Al Jamal said. Although details of the contract were not given, Dario Cadavid, the technical project manager at Qatar 2022, said the charter will require contractors and sub-contractors to set standards for the health, safety, living conditions as well as the wages of workers.
Gerard Hand, President of IOSH, meanwhile, said that several members of the institution were collaborating with Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee in many areas.
Source: The Peninsula
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