To better understand how modern construction methods can fuel health, safety and sustainability, we speak to Ziad Abbout – Senior Health, Safety and Environment Manager at Amana Group.
Saudi Projects: In recent years, there have been major improvements to health and safety in the construction industry. However, modular building can help improve health and safety even further – so can you share the top three health and safety benefits of modular construction?
Ziad Abbout: Modular construction creates a safer building environment by reducing manpower requirements by 30%. It allows for much lower waste rates than an open construction site, and it improves worker safety by up to 70%. Furthermore, as modular construction shifts up to 85% of construction to a factory environment, on-site repetitive and hazardous activities can be automated, resulting in improved health and safety.
SPM: How many accident-free hours has Amana enjoyed on the TRSDC projects, and how does this compare to more traditional construction?
ZA: Amana Group reported 20 million man-hours worked which was also the number of man-hours worked with no lost time injury (LTI) in 2020. For The Red Sea Development Company projects, Amana Group reported 2,285,229 man-hours worked: the same number of accident-free hours. Thus, for all man-hours worked, Amana and TDRSC projects have reported no accidents. This stellar safety record with zero incidents or accidents reported would be unheard of in a traditional construction project of this size and scale.
SPM: Explain a typical day at work for health & safety personnel at Amana?
ZA: Amana Group’s health and safety team perform a wide range of tasks on a regular basis. Morning meetings with the foreman and supervisors are held to discuss the day’s work.
Risk evaluations are carried out with the aim of lowering the risk. Employees are mandated to obtain a permit to work (PTW) alongside all relevant paperwork such as job-specific risk assessments. Regular site inspections to ensure safety procedures are implemented and adhered to.
Modular construction creates a safer building environment by reducing manpower requirements by 30%
Inspections of firefighting equipment, ladder inspections, scaffolding inspections, light vehicle inspections and first aid box inspections are some of the safety procedures that make a day’s work for Amana’s health and safety staff. Moreover, the training matrix and site Health Safety and Environment inductions are used to perform in-house training. HSE personnel at Amana are responsible for ensuring that on-site and laydown area welfare services are available, as well as leading the accident investigation team when required.
SPM: Does the company work to international standards such as ISO 14001, and how does Amana continue to raise the bar?
ZA: Definitely. Amana Group has ISO 14001, ISO 9001 and ISO 45001 certifications. We continue to raise the bar by constantly aiming to build smarter, safer, quicker, better and greener.
SPM: What is Amana most proud of as a company concerning health & safety?
ZA: Amana Group prides itself in its ability to maintain a significantly high internal and external training hour average in the construction industry, with 51,643 total training hours or 6.35 training hours per employee, per year. We follow a top-to-bottom safety culture that includes senior and mid-level management in its safety education program. Over 200 managers and engineers at all levels receive IOSH managing safety training, while supervisors are trained in IOSH working safety training.
Amana subsidiary DuBox is a specialist in modular construction, which means that a majority of work is done off-site. This model of construction, by default, improves worker safety by up to 70%, which is an achievement in itself.
Amana Group has ISO 14001, ISO 9001 and ISO 45001 certifications
SPM: How do you encourage employees to go the extra mile with health & safety – do you recognize individuals and reward them in any way?
ZA: Amana Group ensures health and safety by implementing incentive and safety appreciation systems, initiating regular safety management tours with employees and workers, and implementing a behavior-based safety program. IOSH Managing Safely (UK), IOSH Working Safely (UK), IOSH Managing Occupational Health and Wellbeing (UK), The British Safety Council online training program, and in-house online safety training covering the OSHA outreach program are all available via Amana Group, which is licensed to provide these safety trainings.
Our employees are certified with the HSE certificate and are also incentivized with H&S corporate gift bags to promote a healthy work culture.
SPM: How did the Covid-19 pandemic affect Amana, and what steps did it take to ensure the safety of its workforce?
ZA: As Covid-19 was realized in our markets, we saw that the real threat to business continuity was not the pandemic but the uncertainty it created. Amana’s culture is built on simple beliefs. One of them is: “We take every effort not to surprise others, and equally expect that we are not surprised by others.”
We have a basic belief built on clarity, supported by candid communication and based on objective planning.
To deal with the uncertainty, we pivoted to quick communications by phone and email with all stakeholders (clients for now) to better understand their intent to continue with their jobs. Our conversations with our clients were to reassure them that we are still here, to check on how the project could be managed in view of the unprecedented circumstances and support them with a detailed cash flow forecast so they could make well-informed decisions. Through this quick, candid and thorough communication approach, we had clarity on 45 running projects across the GCC and could see how best they could be managed to serve the common interests of clients, contractors and supply chains. The annual budget was revised down 30% for the year 2020 and was later met profitably. Based on our clients’ responses, we maintained transparency with our supply chain as risk is best managed by those closest to it.
The above exercise held over April and May gave us reasonable clarity. As a company, Amana approached the challenge as ‘one community’. It was decided that no employee would lose their job for those two months. Every employee would contribute 30% of their pay as unpaid leave to support during these times of uncertainty. As of May end, unpaid leave was stopped. In December 2020, the full 30% contribution was returned to staff. In January 2021, a bonus was released in full to all entitled staff.
For all man-hours worked, Amana and TDRSC Projects have reported no accidents.
51,643 total training hours or 6.35 training hours per employee, per year
SPM: What are the ultimate aims and objectives at Amana concerning health & safety in areas such as risk assessments, responsibilities, Methods, plans of action, induction, training & supervision, safety standards, hazard management, emergency procedures, safe work practices, safe systems of work.
ZA: Amana Group’s ultimate goal is to protect its workers and employees from all work-related health and safety risks. We aim to provide a safe working environment for all workers and subcontractors while adhering to relevant legal and regulatory requirements. We are also working towards developing an HSE community in the workplace, which should come to fruition in the near future.
SPM: How would you sum up the company’s general health & safety philosophy?
ZA: Health and safety of all workers across all levels of the organization are of utmost priority. People are our greatest asset, and we ensure they are protected at all times through a collaborative and people-focused approach to safety.
At Amana Group, all construction activities are considered high risk, with varying risk and severity levels. As a result, a standardized risk rating methodology is used, which includes international, local, and internal metrics as well as published statistics. Amana Group maintains high health and safety standards and strives to improve with continued health and safety training.