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Is Prevention better than the Pain?

April 25, 2018


Almost 20 years ago, I ran one of the largest construction training academy in London. We covered 5 main trades: bricklaying, plastering, dry-lining, painting and decorating, and multi-skills (electrical, plumbing, etc.).  Our main training area was a huge, an almost hangar-sized hall, with classrooms leading to it.  We catered to all ages and I had the fortunate luck to develop, with local schools, a training scheme for excluded school children aged 14 -16.  I learned so much from both the instructors and the students.


But I was very conscious of the inherent danger throughout the site.  Building sites are dangerous and so is a construction training centre. It was for this reason I was able to persuade my CEO to implement the 18001 OHAS standard throughout the centre.


This again was a learning experience and one I had to drive as some of the older trade trainers were very much against it. They didn’t like the paperwork that it required. It took some persuading to convince them to do what in fact, as part of our government contracts, we were already doing the paperwork. It was a pain making sure that reports were completed, checklists signed, processes and procedures monitored, but after 8 long months we were certified.


Did I notice a difference? Actually, yes, I did. More importantly, the hard-nosed trade trainers noticed the difference. Our accident rate dropped dramatically over the following 12 months. The trade trainers actually enjoyed carrying out audits (I seriously think they were out to catch their colleagues out). This drove the OHAS Management System. The students were briefed at induction about OHAS within the site and when we took them to construction sites, the site Safety Officer, reinforced our information, again driving home the need for constant vigilance in every aspect of construction for safety first and foremost.


Three months after our certification, another construction training centre in North London had a serious incident where 3 students were badly hurt when scaffolding collapsed. Two of the students were not wearing PPEs; the third was standing in what should have been designated as a restricted area. All 3 were very lucky to not have been fatally hurt. I was asked by my CEO to liaise with their centre manager to carryout the root cause analysis. The conclusion was they had not conducted a risk analysis, did not follow the documented procedures for scaffolding, and did not brief the trainees on health and safety. Would having implemented OHAS 18001 helped? Both the centre manager and myself thought it would have.


Now in Dubai, I see many construction sites around with billboards stating “Safety First” yet I can’t help but wonder if they have a robust, proactive, and embedded OHAS Management System in place. Have they invested a little money and some time to put in place something that could save a life, keep a family together and keep the project on schedule?


Here are some interesting data about construction in the UAE.  Prevention or Pain?


In United Arab Emirates (UAE)

  • 69% of construction companies in the Dubai Municipality lack understanding of the importance of health and safety;

  • 74% of workers in Dubai believe their training is outdated when they do receive it;

  • 71% of workers have no way of reporting accidents in Dubai;

  • Only 18% of construction companies in the Dubai Municipality conduct regular health and safety training;

  • 38% of construction deaths in Dubai occurred because of poor supervision, with a further 25% due to lack of training;

  • 59% of employees in Dubai are never issued safety and health certificates;

  • 25% of UAE companies do not provide PPE to their employees.

Source: Key Middle East Safety Statistics – Safety Media


To find out how to implement and embed the new ISO 45001:2018 OHAS Management System and how CSA Consultants can take the pressure off you and your team in implementing and embedding it, email: or visit our website:


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