UAE contractors share top tips to work during sandstorms
HSE leaders from Al Naboodah Group Enterprises and Khansaheb explain what contractors can do to ensure site safety during tough weather conditions

Following days of sandstorms in the UAE, experts have shared their top tips for working safely in tough weather conditions.

Dusty weather and sandstorms created poor visibility in parts of the UAE this week, and also caused travel havoc.The tough weather conditions also created a challenge for those working on building sites. Sandstorms and high wind speeds can be a problem if the proper health and safety measures are not in place.

Gareth Main, health, safety, and environment (HSE) manager at Al Naboodah Group Enterprises told Construction Week that working from heights, driving, and lifting activities should be stopped during a sandstorm.“Due to the reduced visibility and high winds during sandstorms, working at height is extremely dangerous as there is an increased risk of falling through voids and openings that are not clearly visible.

"As such, all work at height activities are suspended [on our site] until the storm has cleared.”When wind speeds are high and or visibility is poor, driving and lifting work should be suspended too.

“Operators and drivers are advised to stop their vehicles, plant in a safe area , and stay in the cabin until the storm has passed,” he added.When sandstorms are less severe and it is safe to resume work, staff are issued with personal protective equipment such as safety glasses and anti-dust masks to prevent inhalation of potentially harmful particles.

“If the sandstorm intensifies, making working outside dangerous, all works are suspended until the storm has passed,” Main said.Group HSE manager at Khansaheb, Andrew Cook, said the business has a range of health a safety protocols to follow during a sandstorm.

“General measures adopted during poor weather conditions include a consistent approach to implementing high standards that ameliorate the effects of winds," he said.

"These include effective storage and temporary protection standards, designing scaffolding, crane requirements, temporary works and the suspension of specific activities including those that expose our workers to dust.”Khansaheb's Cook recommended health checks should be given to staff to ensure employees are fit for onsite work.

He added: “Windy and dusty weather presents all of our projects working externally with additional challenges other than those that are generally associated with the project.

“High winds increase the risk of disturbing stored materials, particularly sheet materials and those protected by tarpaulins. Craneage and lifting, excavation activities, temporary structures, and protection can all be affected by the additional loadings caused by high wind speeds and inclement weather.

“The wind also increases the particle content in the air which reduces visibility and decreases the quality of the working environment for our employees,” he added.