IMG 20190617 WA0001More than 110 HSE practitioners, government representatives, regulators and solutions providers are set to convene at the Wyndham Grand Manama – Manama, Bahrain for the Bahrain Health, Safety & Environment Forum, which takes place from 17-18 June

Building on the success of previous events in Dubai and Kuwait, the Bahrain Health, Safety & Environment Forum takes place under the patronage of the Bahrain Ministry of Labour and Social Development, with Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) as Conference Partner. It will provide a platform for the sharing of ideas and expertise on critical issues across the spectrum of health and prevention, safety, risk management and environment.

Researched and developed by Health, Safety & Security Review Middle East magazine, the event will provide valuable insights into effective health and safety programmes, highlighting best practices, process improvements, technology advances and innovative applications to enhance occupational health and safety performance. A wide range of topics will be explored over the two days, through a combination of thought-provoking presentations, case studies and interactive panel discussions.

The highlight of the event will be a first of its kind live evacuation drill, bringing together the world-leading expertise and capabilities of Bapco and Bahrain Civil Defence/Bahrain Fire Brigade in a unique collaboration for which Martyn Diamond Black, head of events and training at event organisers Alain Charles Publishing, was, in fact, the catalyst. It will showcase several elements of excellence performed by the Civil Defence/Fire Brigade and Bapco’s HSE team, with Civil Defence/Fire Brigade overseeing the whole operation. The drill is set to enthrall and involve the audience with realistic effects and an element of surprise.

“It’s something unique, it’s something different, it’s innovative and exciting, and it’s something that’s never been done in Bahrain before,” said Jack Waldron, Bapco’s working at heights specialist. Waldron, who will present on working at heights, is a leading light behind the drill, along with Captain Hamed Swar, head of the Fire Brigade.

Waldron added that the collaboration is significant in reuniting two of Bahrain’s biggest giants in firefighting and rescue work, explaining that 12-15 years ago a major group of companies, including Bapco and its sister companies, had worked together with Bahrain Civil Defence in this area. It is hoped that this group can now be revived and can share its expertise and successes throughout the GCC and the wider region.

Bahrain’s island status means that it relies on the support of its major companies, Waldron stated. “It is good to have the likes of Civil Defence on our doorstep, who can work with us and help with any problems we may have. And likewise, our fire crew are willing to help them, if needed.

“Our safety is at such a high international level because if anything goes wrong in our refinery it will go wrong big time. We have to mitigate as much risk as we can. I believe we are doing that, and it will be good to show our sister companies and the wider GCC region where we’re at.”

Bapco and Bahrain Civil Defence/Fire Brigade will have a significant involvement throughout the Forum. Ahmed Khalil, director HSE, Bapco, will give the opening keynote address, while Martin Peter, TPL specialist, Bapco will speak on behaviour-based safety, and Samah Al-Hamadala, superintendent business resilience management, Bapco, will speak on the effect of greenhouse gases on health and the environment. Waleed Rehman Althawadi, fire chief – Hamad Town Fire Station, Bahrain Civil Defence will address fire scene management and challenges, and Lt. Qasim Saleh Ahmed Saleh, head, Hazardous Materials Branch, Bahrain Civil Defence will present on hazardous materials (hazmat).

In an indication of the importance which the Ministry of Labour and Social Development attaches to achieving the highest safety standards for Bahrain’s workforce, the welcome note at the Forum will be given by the Undersecretary at the Ministry, while Ali Mahdi, occupational engineer at the Ministry, will address the role of legislation in controlling occupational accidents.

Mahdi stresses the “vital” role of the Occupational Safety Department (OSD) at the Ministry of Labour and Social Development in the protection of the labour force, outlining its activities which include preventative inspections to raise the awareness of the importance of occupational safety measures at worksites; the investigation of occupational accidents; and running awareness and guidance programmes.

“It is noteworthy that the number of visits carried out by the inspectors in the Occupational Safety Section in 2018 amounted to 10,923 visits, which constitutes a significant increase compared to previous years; also the department investigated 351 occupational accidents reported by the concerned authorities, including 21 fatalities,” he noted.

In a session on health and prevention, Dr Maha Al Shehab, general secretary, Bahrain Health and Safety Society will explore the relationship between work and health, the effect of mental health and stress management at work and the importance of establishing mental health programmes for the workforce. The relationship between worker wellbeing and business productivity is increasingly recognised worldwide, she explained.

“In occupational health, we should not focus only on physical health, but also on other aspects of health such as mental health, stress management and social wellbeing. These are important aspects that we should not ignore,” she stressed. She further added that, while much information is available on the Internet, forums such as this, which provide access to international expertise and networking, are “the best way to deliver such messages, by bringing experts in the field to answer the concerns and questions of the audience.”

On the environment front, Dr Fay Abdulla Al Khalifa, assistant professor, University of Bahrain, will speak on Smart Sustainable Urbanism in Bahrain and its direct relationship to occupational health. She will focus on the importance of Sustainability Assessment Tools to measure and monitor buildings’ performances and on the effect of visual discomfort on building occupants, also illustrating the importance of indoor air quality as the main criterion for evaluating occupational health.

“Bahrain is progressing steadily to achieving sustainable urbanisation,” she said. “The focus on health and environment protection can be seen in the vast infrastructural developments in the health sector and in the key performance indicators recently established to assess the environmental progress of the islands.”

Other speakers include Hesham Abdulla, head of safety at Aluminium Bahrain (ALBA); Dr Hussain Al Durazi, medical practitioner, Healthzone Bahrain; Neelaja Shrotre, general secretary, Migrant Workers Protection Society; Bala Siva Srikanth Adivi, behavioural safety specialist, Kuwait Oil Company; Mohamed Ali Shukri, CEO Y Access Training Solutions, Bahrain; Jason Woods, regional representative, IPAF; Mazharuddin Shaikh, safety engineer, Kuwait Oil Company; and Marwa Aleskafi, head of accelerator programme, Brinc Bahrain.

Sponsors and supporters include Bapco; Evac + Chair; Total Safety; Haji Hassan Group; Bahrain Health & Safety Society; Migrant Workers Protection Society and the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF).

“Health and safety practices continue to evolve in the Middle East,” commented Soumen Chakraborthy, conference producer. “EHS professionals need to keep pace with the latest trends, technology and best practices to create a healthier and safer workplace while adapting to changing demographics in the workforce. It is also vital to learn how data analysis and new technology can prevent illness and injury.”

“The Bahrain HSE Forum 2019 will bring together visionary speakers from multiple sectors amidst an audience of industrial hygienists, occupational health professionals, EHS specialists, safety professionals, risk management professionals, and others responsible for safety, health, and the environment at their organisations.”