I deeply thank Habib Battah for his blog post on The Beirut Report for highlighting an example of the bad conditions under which construction workers (foreign most of the time) live in Lebanon. Construction in general is a subject close to my heart, and “health and safety” is a main aspect of delivering construction projects, considering this industry is statistically one of the most dangerous in terms of accidents and casualties numbers (relative to other office and non-office jobs).
We have experienced a sudden frenzy over safety in Lebanon in the last couple weeks triggered by the sad building collapse in Achrafieh. This aberration initiated again the endemic worries over the infamous Jal Al-Dib flyover bridge, the extensive media coverage, and the activism of some local authorities and parliamentary committees who originated the discussions on how they can improve the general public safety.
In reference to the recent collapsed building in Achrafiyeh in Beirut, and frenzy over Jal al-Dib bridge in northern suburb of Beirut, Stephen Dockery wrote a good story in The Daily Star about Lebanon’s collapsing structures. Stephen quoted me in his article.
I told Stephen:
I wouldn’t say Jal al-Dib is bad in its structure or design, it just wasn’t followed with maintenance.
We desperately need routine maintenance regimes in place for public assets, rather than reactionary plans. Moreover, construction projects, which could have adverse impact on the nearby structures, should go through rigorous approval procedures, not only for their permanent designs but for their temporary designs that serve them for the duration of the construction period.
The aim of any law should be protecting public and private assets, and maintaining the public health and safety – which are really low on the Lebanese agenda.
Please click here to read the full story in The Daily Star.
What you see below is screen shot from the prime news programme on MTV – the Lebanese TV channel – on Friday 8th July 2011. It was shown as part of a reportage on the illegal advertising billboards on the streets in Lebanon. The MTV reporter was worried that these illegal chaotic billboards visually pollute the scene, and could be at risk of falling as result of strong winds (as previously happened).
MTV reporter was spot on with these worries, but what worried me of his worries was that he missed a main ‘health and safety’ concern: the men climbing, walking and working from heights without any proper protection. There wasn’t any barrier to protect them, and they were not connected with any ropes. Moreover, they didn’t wear any personal protective equipment (known as PPE).