Fire safety back on the agenda
The devastating warehouse fire that broke out in Sharjah this month has brought to light the question of whether or not there is adequate regulation of facilities in the Middle East.
Many firms have moved operations outside of the European Union and into the region because red tape and regulatory bureaucracy there is often deemed stifling. Moving a business away from such 'nannying' has its advantages, but also brings with it a greater responsibility to self-regulate.
Protecting your own property and staff should be the principal concern of employers, but the events in the UAE last month highlight the fact that fires can spread rapidly and impact operations on a national level.
Fortunately the firefighters of the Civil Defense department were able to bring the recent blaze in Sharjah under control and fatalities were avoided. The cause of the fires has yet to be determined but the event should serve as a wake up call to companies operating in the region. Voluntarily undertaking stringent health and safety reviews of operations is a must for firms wishing to retain the freedoms of working in a part of the world relatively free from regulation.
Of course, accidents do happen, and even the best prepared or equipped organisations cannot guarantee with 100% certainty that they are completely protected. What companies can do is carry out staff training and educate staff to improve everyday practices that will dramatically reduce the likelihood of such incidents occurring.
The UAE Ministry of Interior responded to the fires with the announcement that companies which fail to protect their premises adequately will be required to cover the cost of putting out fires in the future. Further regulation will be unavoidable if companies fail to take this responsibility seriously, and one of the many advantages of working here will be eroded.