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180,000 work-related injuries in Jordan in 2016, health and safety forum hears

By Dana Al Emam - Apr 25,2017 - Last updated at Apr 25,2017

AMMAN — Work-related injuries in industrial and construction projects would be reduced by endorsing and implementing a set of national guidelines for occupational health and safety, professionals agreed on Tuesday.

Creating a safe working environment for workers is a priority that all concerned stakeholders must work collectively to address, President of the Jordan Engineers Association (JEA) Majed Tabba said at the opening of the First International Jordanian Forum for Occupational Health and Safety.

Tabba, who was also deputising for the patron of the forum, HRH Princess Sumaya, cited a need to develop a legal framework of laws, regulations and standards based on international occupational safety codes. 

"The JEA is keen on advancing all efforts to improve occupational health and safety," he noted, highlighting occupational safety as a prerequisite for the advancement of the country's industrial and construction investment projects.

Organised by the JEA in cooperation with IMNBI business conferences company, the three-day forum seeks to increase knowledge and exchange international experiences in the field of occupational health and safety in a bid to develop a national occupational safety code.

Chairman of the organising committee Mohammad Hussein said that the forum seeks to combine private and public efforts to make Jordan a regional hub for occupational safety, along with the country’s popularity in medicine and engineering. 

He cited figures from the International Labour Organisation stating that, in 2010, one worker in the construction sector died every 10 minutes due to a lack of proper safety measures, meaning 144 workers were killed each day.

Hussein added that the forum is expected to see the signing of several agreements between the JEA and several international bodies working in the field, to boost training. 

"This is a huge human drain," he said, noting that the international worker death rate has increased over the past seven years, and is likely to be higher in this region.   

Omar Suwaiti, head of the Jordanian Society of Occupational Health and Safety Engineers, suggested compiling a national occupational safety reference, adding that regular forums and educational workshops help raise further awareness on the issue. 

For his part, head of the mechanical engineering division at the JEA, Raed Shurbaji, cited figures from 2016 showing that around 180,000 work-related injuries were registered in Jordan, including a major accident every three minutes.

Shurbaji said these accidents result in human and economic losses, noting that high rates of work-rleated injuries are a great burden on the individual and the state.

Meanwhile, he said that the increase in the number of engineers specialised in occupational health and safety, the establishment of a specialised college, the availability of occupational health and safety engineering programmes at the bachelor's level at four local universities, as well as the creation of a specialised association in the field, are signs of growing interest in the topic.

The forum includes participants from Jordan, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United States.

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