Abu Dhabi: Companies that hire 500 workers or more in the construction sector must have a UAE national health and safety officer on their facilities from 2017 or they will not be granted work permits, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiritisation announced today.

“We shall stop granting facilities employing 500 plus workers any further work permits if they don’t hire at least one local occupational health and safety officer,” said Saqr Ghobash, Minister for Human Resources and Emiratisation.

“The decision came following a strategic plan to promote employment opportunities for locals in the private sector to implement the Emiratisation file which has our wise leadership’s clear attention,” he added.

The ministry said around 400 facilities in the construction sector are targeted.

“The ministry targeted localisation of the profession of occupational health and safety officer, after careful consideration of the reality of the sectors of construction, industry and major industrial enterprises operating in these sectors where it was found the possibility of providing an attractive and stable opportunities for job seekers of national human resources,” the minister said.

Ghobash pointed out that the ministry will implement close follow-up mechanisms to note down compliance levels across targeted facilities.

“I personally believe in the adherence and commitment adapted by the employers towards our decisions, especially since sucha decree, which emphasises employing qualified citizens, is a joint and shared national responsibility between the government and the private sector,” Ghobash said.

The minister called on citizens to seek such job opportunities that will be available to them at the targeted facilities and to prove themselves and their abilities to perform the required tasks efficiently, especially since many rehabilitation programmes shall be organised by their ministry to prepare them properly for such challenging positions.