Occupational Health Insurance System Under Consideration

Occupational Health and Safety Centre working to train personnel to reduce workplace injuries
Abu Dhabi: A new system to provide health insurance for workplace injuries is currently being studied in Abu Dhabi, officials said yesterday.
The system will be developed by the Abu Dhabi Occupational Safety and Health Centre (Oshad) and will be implemented in collaboration with authorities regulating the sector, such as the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (Haad).


According to the Oshad, occupational health and safety includes procedures that must be taken by employers to prevent injuries and deaths on the job.


Injuries are currently the second leading cause of death in the emirate after cardiovascular disease. In 2013, 109 cases of occupational injuries resulting in death were recorded by Haad, the health sector regulator.


Among the occupational deaths in 2013, 42 per cent occurred due to falls and falling objects, 30 per cent from road traffic incidents, six per cent from suffocation, five per cent from electrical mishaps, three per cent from burning and fire-related accidents and one per cent from drowning.


The current mandatory health insurance system in Abu Dhabi does not provide coverage for these worksite injuries. As a result, employers are responsible for ensuring treatment and care in case of occupational accidents. While a number of insurance packages are offered on the market, availing of these is optional for employers.


According to the Oshad, a number of challenges are holding back the development of an effective occupational safety and health ecosystem. For example, there is a lack of data on actual incidents, as well as a communication barrier between many employers and their employees due to differences in language, cultural background and educational achievement. In addition, there is a range of perceptions on what is considered to be workplace risk.


The Oshad is therefore launching a variety of awareness campaigns to tackle these concerns amd reduce workplace accidents in coordination with employers and sector regulators.


A total of 66 workshops have been organised over the last five years to ensure that public and private sector entities comply with Oshad regulations. Additionally, 953 inspection visits and 99 audits have been conducted.


In the meantime, the authority is also working to register occupational health and safety inspectors from a variety of industries, as well as provide training for them under a programme known as Qudorat. As of the end of 2014, 343 general practitioners have been registered under this initiative, and the number of registered practitioners and establishments increased by 89 and 80 per cent, respectively, in 2014.


In 2013, two workers died and a third was injured after inhaling poisonous gases while performing maintenance in a 10-metre-deep water tank at an Abu Dhabi industrial company. The company was convicted for failure to provide the necessary safety equipment.


In another tragic case in 2012, two workers perished and the third sustained severe injuries after they fell from the seventh floor when their scaffolding collapsed. The men were working on a building under construction.