Given that the massive scale of economic activity in Abu Dhabi, particularly within the civil construction field, requires an enormous workforce, the Emirate is keen to ensure that workers have the best possible living conditions.
This is being achieved by establishing and administering guidelines and regulations that require all employers to comply with all international laws and regulations in respect of health, psychological, and social conditions for workers. Providing workers with facilities that permit them a decent standard of living is in accordance with leadership’s emphasis that Abu Dhabi should be the pioneer within the region in this particular field. Abu Dhabi is determined to present a progressive role model that is based on full compliance with workers’ rights.
Abu Dhabi has invested Dh 20 billion in 23 different labour cities that are able to accommodate more than 385,000 workers. Current occupancy of the labour cities is at 195,000 workers, or 51%. Abu Dhabi has also implemented regulations that require companies to transport their workers between their worksites and the labour cities, and forbids them to accommodate workers on construction sites or in other crowded places under unsanitary conditions.
The labour cities provide sports and social activities, public parks, markets, mosques, cinemas, internet facilities and cable television services. Public services are provided in the form of healthcare clinics and hospitals, supervision of hygiene and food services, and security services. Professional catering companies provide workers’ meals to avoid unsanitary meal preparation practices which cause food poisoning and related healthcare issues. To ensure consistently high standards, the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority is charged with directly supervising all of the workers’ daily meals, as well as conducting routine inspection rounds in the labour cities to ensure they are in compliance with health conditions approved by the Authority.
Many decisions and regulations aimed at ensuring complete compliance with workers’ rights have been passed at both the Emirate and Federal level. The Government of Abu Dhabi will continue to conduct routine inspections to ensure that companies adhere to these obligations, and those that are found to be in breach will be punished accordingly. 5,470 companies were fined during the period from June 2010 to May 2012, while 648 companies undertook remedial actions to ensure compliance within a specified period of time.
With regard to health and safety practices on construction sites, the Health Authority – Abu Dhabi (HAAD), Abu Dhabi Environment, Health and Safety Management System, Abu Dhabi Environment Health and Safety Center (ADEHSC), as well as many other concerned organizing entities, have developed a program that provides free guidance and advice to business owners and health and safety specialists, as well as workers. The objective of these organizations is to help companies comply with the Health, Safety and Environment Management System’s organizational framework requirements, and in particular, protecting workers working in high sites from injury or even death.
To ensure all companies adhere to health and safety requirements, as well as proper environmental standards for workers, the Abu Dhabi Municipality has applied a strict electronic monitoring system. Permits to proceed with work are only granted if the companies are in compliance with environment, health and safety standards.
These actions are in accordance with decision No (42) of 2009 by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Chairman of the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi, regarding Abu Dhabi’s Health, Safety and Environment Management System to provide a unified mechanism within the Emirate to facilitate the application of standardized environment, health and safety-related regulations. Within the same context, in 2010 the Abu Dhabi Executive Council established an Environment Health and Safety Center with its primary goal the building of capabilities in the field of professional health and safety.