I recently had the opportunity to travel to Doha in Qatar, Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE, and Singapore as part of our research on workplace health and safety management needs in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. I was joined on the trip by my colleague Janardhanan Chandrasekar (JC), UL’s Business Development Director for Asia.
These cities are extraordinarily vibrant. Their growing economies are driven by a number of factors, with construction and oil and gas production playing a particularly important role. We were repeatedly amazed by the pace of construction and architectural styles – from amulti-billion dollar airport in Doha, to the BurgKhalifa, the world’s tallest building in Dubai, to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore, which features three towers topped by a ship.
During our travels, we found government officials and employers were receptive to our suggestions about ways to improve workplace safety and health performance. With relatively small domestic populations, these countries make heavy use of foreign laborers, many of whom come from countries with lower levels of safety education and awareness than more developed nations.
While these countries are putting new measures in place to address poor safety records, it’s difficult for them to simply “flip a switch” and mandate a safer workplace. There is a fairly wide disparity in the caliber of safety professionals and safety training. Most of the in-country workplace safety training suppliers provide classroom training, which heavily relies on the trainer’s credentials and can be lacking in quality and consistency.
At UL Workplace Health & Safety, we have an exciting opportunity to make a difference by providing high-quality, consistent online safety training that can be combined with local classroom and on-the-job training. As part of this effort, we will likely partner with local suppliers to leverage their knowledge of regional customs and business practices.
Our efforts in the Middle East and Singapore complement our efforts to provide globalized safety training content in multiple languages to U.S. multinational companies across all of their operations. It’s gratifying to know that we have the capability to contribute to the safety and well-being of millions of workers.