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New public health law ensure safety for U.A.E employees

The upcoming public health law will ensure that good health and safety standards are set for employees in the workplace at all levels of service, health officials said on Tuesday.

Article 22 of the law - that is currently with the Cabinet for approval - will focus on health and safety of workers, including preventive treatments to improve their health, explained Dr Amin Hussein Al Amiri, assistant undersecretary for public policy and licensing at the Ministry of Health and Prevention.
The law will also upgrade the system of managing occupational safety, especially in regulating workplace injuries as well as managing risk assessment at the workplace.

Currently, the government bears the cost of treating 55 percent of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among workers in direct costs. Productivity in 45 percent of employees is affected due to illness and disease.

Dr Amiri said that five main points affect a worker's health, including physical factors such as temperature and humidity; chemical factors including fumes and poisonous gases; biological factors such as viruses, parasites, germs and infectious diseases - for which the government has introduced annual pre-screening tests. The other two factors include psychological and social effects such as accommodation matters and relation with employers; and mechanical factors such as safety and cleanliness of buildings.

"Though the government already is handling these issues, the upcoming law will put a particular focus on these points," said Dr Amiri.

Aisha Al Suwaidi, executive director of human resources policies at the federal authority for human resources (FAHR), said the authority developed a workplace and safety guide for workers in a period of three years based on international benchmarks. "The guide lists health and safety measures for employees for all nature of jobs," she said." We want a culture of zero hazards, incidents or accidents and increase the productivity of an individual's performance to the maximum which cannot be done without a proper setup," she added.

The FAHR has trained 60 certified specialists who are acting as change agents and educating companies and employees on these guidelines. The officials were attending a workshop organised by the health ministry as part of the World Occupational Health and Safety Day on Tuesday in collaboration with the Arab Labour Organisation, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and the Federal Authority for Human Resources were also part of the event.

The workshop reviewed a legislation concerning the documentation of accidents and occupational diseases and effective mechanisms for data collection and analysis and systematic reporting. Dr Amiri said the government was developing laws and legislations to provide employees and workers with equal rights under the government's programme to attract skilled labour. Dr Amiri explained that both government and private establishments follow the national standards and guidelines adopted by the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority.

5 factors that affect a worker's health

  • Physical factors such as temperature and humidity
  • Chemical factors including fumes and poisonous gases
  • Biological factors such as viruses, parasites, germs and infectious diseases
  • Psychological and social effects such as accommodation matters and relation with employers
  •  Mechanical factors such as safety and cleanliness of buildings