Workers at a construction site in Dubai. Image Credit: Oliver Clarke/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Companies in the capital's construction sector that are found to be violating health, safety and environment (HSE) regulations will now have their transactions suspended, the Municipality of Abu Dhabi city announced in a statement sent yesterday.

The suspension, which will apply to all construction project activities, will be lifted from the relevant contractor or consultant only when all workplace hazards and wrongful practices are rectified and the relevant fines have been paid, the statement added.

"The new system mandates all consultants and contractors to meet the requisites of the municipal HSE requirements. [It also] applies a periodic monitoring policy [so] that neither contractors nor consultants can clear a [construction] phase unless they meet all HSE standards and…eliminate all forms of risk," said Salah Awad Al Sarraj, acting executive director of town planning at the municipality.

Prior to this mandate, companies in violation of the municipal HSE standards were issued fines based on the level and type of wrongful practice by municipal inspectors, who undertook periodic checks at worksites.

However, the large number of construction projects undertaken in the capital meant that inspectors were not always able to check if the hazards had been removed before project activities were resumed, Abdul Aziz Zurub, director of HSE at the municipality, told Gulf News.

"This new system, however, means that municipal inspectors will not only impose fines for a violation but also suspend all transactions. To avoid a delay in delivering the project, companies will have to rectify the violation as soon as possible and submit proof to the municipality," he explained.

There are currently 7,427 worksites in the capital, including construction sites, sites where maintenance work is ongoing, and demolition sites. Zurub said that 40 per cent of small construction sector companies in the capital had been found in violation of municipal HSE regulations.

"The new initiative will have the greatest impact on reducing injuries and fatalities caused by falling from a height," the official added.

According to statistics revealed recently by the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD), 53 lives were lost to falls from heights and falling objects in 2011 in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

A set of municipal codes on the safe use of scaffolding equipment is also in the works, and is expected to be available after a month.