World Health Day WAS commemorated globally, under the theme ‘Together for a Fairer, Healthier World’, with a call going out for urgent action to eliminate health inequities and mobilize action to attain better health for all and leave no one behind. This is a mission that is already central to The Red Sea Development Company’s (TRSDC) business philosophy, which revolves around ensuring that employees are not only fit and healthy but happy and content too, with everyone’s physical, mental and emotional needs taken into account.
This was underlined on World Health Day, when TRSDC celebrated the event in a number of ways, not least by hosting a webinar in tandem with Jensen & Hughes, a global leader in safety, security and risk-based engineering and consulting. “The topic was how we anticipate and respond to a crisis,” explains Brian Spraker, Executive Director Health, Safety and Security at TRSDC. “There was someone from Jenson & Hughes who spoke on this particular subject. And the purpose of the webinar was to educate and help our staff and employees understand some of the things our business is looking at and preparing for and what families should do. We’re in the middle of a global crisis right now that’s affected all of us. So it’s really about raising awareness and educating employees and their families on how to prepare for any crisis in their lives.”
‘Family’ is at the heart of the TRSDC ethos, with Mick James, Health and Safety Director, saying: “Whenever someone new joins us, we say “welcome to the family,” and we mean it. It does feel more like a family than a place to work. The big thing for us is that we’re really proud of our welfare structure and how we’ve set new standards for the industry. We really care about the workforce.”
‘Family’ is at the heart of the TRSDC ethos
Building a Healthy Team
One only has to look at the Construction Village to understand where Mick is coming from. This is a very modern community with lots of green space, as well as recreational areas such as cricket and football (soccer) pitches, and volleyball and basketball courts. Instead of just being a workers’ camp, which usually has a pretty negative connotation, this is a genuine community. And in many cases, people are living in better accommodation in the Construction Village, with access to better primary medical care, than they would in their country.
Employees are not confined to the Village either, with Mick continuing: In the area people can go out biking, kayaking, diving, hiking and participate in numerous other outdoor activities.
There’s a lot of opportunity for a healthy lifestyle. And it’s not just the management that has access to all of this – it’s the carpenters, labourers, masons, electricians, truck drivers, everybody.”
“In terms of making the workplace a healthier place to be, here at the TRSDC Base Camp and the Construction Village Housing (CVH) community, we have access to a fully functional gymnasium, we have bicycles available for the staff to use,” adds Health and Safety Director Simon Horner. “That’s something I do myself, get out there and do a bit of cycling out in the very expansive countryside and scenery that Saudi Arabia has to offer.
“Both Base Camp and CVH are really superbly equipped communities that promote a healthy lifestyle. A big part of what we do here at the Health & Safety Department is set goals and objectives for health and wellness, and we’ll be introducing some new health initiatives this year. This includes activities like sponsored cycle rides and step challenges. We’ll get a bit of competition going – perhaps create a league table and offer some prizes.”
This is a genuine community
Indeed, TRSDC not only encourages a healthy lifestyle, it provides everything to achieve one. Recently, for instance, the company sponsored three boats – two with divers and one with snorkelers – and stayed out for the day, visiting one of the islands. Those breaks are good for both physical and mental fitness.
Integrative Health and Wellness
TRSDC has contracted International SOS – Al Rushaid, one of the world’s blue-chip health and security companies, to provide its site-wide medical services. “We have a central medical facility at our Construction Village housing community,” says Brian. “It’s a 700m2 facility where we have doctors, nurses, an x-ray machine, pharmacy, primary and emergency care services, a laboratory, and it’s all available to our entire workforce. This is for Red Sea employees, construction workers, visitors – anyone associated with this project has access to this facility.”
“The other thing we’re working on with International SOS,” Brian adds, “is an annual physical protocol for our employees based on age and any medical conditions. So if we have employees who have diabetes or respiratory issues, something like that, we would have a standard physical that each one of those individuals would have.
“Furthermore, from a health emergency standpoint, because of the remoteness of some of the sites, we have seven different remote medical facilities across the project, all equipped with ambulances. There is also an EMS helicopter if fast transport is required to get someone to a hospital in Yanbu, Jeddah or another city.
“It’s undoubtedly the best company I’ve ever worked for”
One Big Happy Family
A good way to describe TRSDC would be ‘a big company with a small company attitude’. “We are a global family,” explains Brian. “We’ve got a very diverse ethnic group of individuals – around 30 different nationalities – from Peruvians and Argentineans through to Egyptians, Filipinos, Brits, Americans, Indians, Spaniards , Bosnians, the list goes on. We have all of the different cultures and religions, so if it’s Easter, it’s ‘Happy Easter’, if it’s Ramadan, it’s ‘Ramadan Kareem’, if it’s Diwali, it’s ‘Happy Diwali’. Everyone recognizes everyone’s holidays and special days. Muslims take the Eid period off; Christians take Christmas etc.
“It’s undoubtedly the best company I’ve ever worked for; it’s the only place where the entire team is here to make each other successful instead of being on their own personal agenda. The company has done a really good job of recruiting people with the right attitude. I’ve never had a team of people who were this solid and had each other’s backs. It’s universal across the company.”
A Caring, Sharing Attitude
World Health Day 2021 is being celebrated during one of the most challenging times in recent history, and it is interesting to ponder whether Covid-19 will make people more responsive to the message? Mick thinks it probably will, saying: “I’d like to say, yes. Certainly, my family and I are more focused on wellness, particularly the health side. So I’d like to think that people would be more drawn towards World Health Day than ever.”
Around 60% of the TRSDC workforce has received at least the first Covid-19 jab. But it’s not only the medical side of things where the company excels. “I think the other thing we do well out here,” says Brian, “is we realize that not everyone gets a chance to go and see their families as much as they would like. So we watch out for each other and do a pretty good job of inviting people to different events and activities. We had a dinner recently for the team, which was just a very pleasant evening. It’s important to recognize the social and mental health aspect of what we do. We support each other.”
The TRSDC health strategy goes across the entire business, including the digital business stream, so the company is utilizing technology as well as more traditional routes to ensure the health and wellbeing of its workforce.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that TRSDC was presented with the Excellence in Health and Employee Safety award for its Covid-19 Health and Safety Plan at the Big Project Middle East Awards on 26 January at the Ritz Carlton JBR in Dubai. This celebrated its efforts to maintain the health and safety of its workforce during the pandemic, whether on-site or at the company’s headquarters.
Also picking up The Developer of the Year award at the same event, TRSDC is setting standards right across the board and has put the health and wellbeing of its workforce right at the top of its list. And in a world so often run by accountants and people with little or no imagination, this is to be applauded.
The Red Sea Project is unique and, I would suggest, for one very good reason – it is run by unique people who care. TRSDC is not only a company that will succeed because of the quality of its projects; it will succeed because it deserves to.