ADEC organizes EHS Forum
The Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) organized a forum titled Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) for over 900 school principals, vice principals and EHS representatives across public and private schools in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, with the aim of providing a proactive EHS culture, continuous education and capacity building.
ADEC’s EHS strategic partners during the first forum of its kind include the Abu Dhabi Occupational Safety & Health Center (OSHAD), the Abu Dhabi Police, Department of Transport, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, and the Centre for Waste Management.
“EHS is a nation-wide initiative that everyone should be involved in. Safeguarding our students from any hazardous social factor will reflect on the way the whole community reacts to EHS, it’s all about educating the public about how important this project is. That is why we are delighted to have so many government entities on board with us during this forum; each entity delivers its area of expertise to our audience of educators, who in return will communicate these messages to students, teachers and parents,” said Ms. Sara Al Fahim, Senior Specialist, EHS Section, School Services Division.
During the forum, each participant was given an EHS animation DVD covers all the main Environmental aspects and health & safety hazards in schools and control measures to reduce their impacts (available in both English and Arabic) & School EHS Manual which complies with (mechanism 5) in Abu Dhabi Occupational Safety & Health System which highlighted EHS policies, roles and responsibilities, incident reporting and investigation among many other diverse topics.
The policy manual helps outline school leadership commitment to providing a sustainable, healthy and safe workplace for employees, students, contractors and visitors. Accordingly, schools are required to develop an EHS policy that reflects ADEC’s EHS requirements.
“Schools are responsible in shaping the values of our youth through promoting a culture of responsibility and accountability towards protecting the environment, human health and safety, while minimizing hazards and risks arising from various activities and operations,” stressed Ms. Al Fahim.
As part of the EHS policy, schools are required to promote awareness and encourage participation through effective communication and consultation with staff, students, contractors and concerned stakeholders; while undergoing constant EHS training.
Abu Dhabi Occupational Safety & Health Center (OSHAD) oversees all occupational safety and health (OSH) aspects across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. ADEC has been delegated by OSHAD to oversee the implementation of AD EHSMS by entities relevant to ADEC. This aims to secure healthy and safe workplaces for all people through the frameworks and integrated systems in line with the comprehensive development plans and programs implemented by Abu Dhabi Government.
Dr. Dhabiya Bakhit, OSHAD Policies and Systems Section Manager, said that the forum helped explain OSH requirements in the educational sector’s facilities such as school facilities, labs, sport areas, swimming pools, clinics, cafeterias, transportation, contractors and vendors). “The ultimate goal is to ensure the safety and health of people involved in these activities i.e. students, school management, parents and other relevant groups”, she added.
“The forum helps schools understand the importance of cooperating with ADEC and other concerned government entities for the wellbeing of staff and students. In order to prevent and/or monitor injury, ill health and environmental pollution, schools are required to comply with all relevant EHS legislation, as well as preserve and improve the cultural, natural and built environment in the school, thus achieving continual improvement in EHS performance,” added Ms. Al Fahim.
As part of the activities at the forum, experts from Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) organized an awareness lecture in which possible health risks that occur across schools due to unhealthy eating habits were discussed. The ADFCA lecture shed light on the importance of communicating food safety knowledge to students, while offering educators insight on how to preserve and store food items properly in order to avoid any food-poisoning incidents.
Mr. Mohammed Jalal Al Rayssi, Director of Communication & Community Service Division commented on the initiative, he said: , “ADFCA is keen on conducting field visits to schools and school canteens systematically in its efforts to raise food safety awareness levels across educational institutions. During inspection visits, ADFCA officials checked that various food safety requirements are being met by educators, canteen management, school leaders and students.”
Mr. Ali Makki, Chairman of the School Transport Committee, Department of Transport (DoT) in Abu Dhabi said:“The DoT presented forum participants with roles and expectations from different stakeholders in ensuring safe school transport of students in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Those roles and expectations are a reflection from the school transport regulations that the DoT, in consultation with ADEC and other strategic partners, issued previously. In these regulations, safety always comes first, and enhancements cover all safety aspects of the student travel experience from door-to-door, including pick-up, drop-off, bus drivers and escorts, as well as supporting technology and equipment. The safety specifications and responsibilities are addressed in the articles of the regulation in full detail, and we are pleased to shed light on such important topics, while continuing to cooperate and partner with ADEC in conducting these series of successful forums.”
Engineer Hani Hosni, EHS Department Director at Tadweer said: “We would like to thank Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) and its partners for this important initiative, which mainly targets future generations – the key drivers of our sustainable vision. At Tadweer. We are committed to supporting all initiatives and organizations that promote health, environmental and safety issues towards disseminating our environmental awareness message among all members of society.
At Tadweer, we prioritize introducing people to the leading role played by Tadweer in the protection of environment and public health, while sensitizing them on the importance of waste reduction and segregation. We also seek to inform people about the waste management facilities in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and encourage them to participate in various activities and events, including competitions for schools and universities students”.
Already coordinated with ADEC, a comprehensive initial program will be launched to cover all school facilities at emirate level. It will be implemented in coordination with various professional institutions and aims to ensure that all parties meet their responsibilities in relation to compliance with AD EHSMS requirements and applicable laws. In addition, the program will develop and implement awareness plans covering all school operations.
All schools have been inspected in the past two years since EHS inspections in ADEC started to take place in early 2014. Results during the phase two 2014/2015 inspections, demonstrate that schools have shown significant improvement in terms of health and safety.