As a concerned corporate citizen, Dubai Aluminium (DUBAL), the state-owned enterprise that owns and operates the world’s largest primary aluminium smelter using pre-bake anode technology, invests continually in initiatives to educate employees and empower them to take care of their occupational health and safety. Every year, for example, DUBAL hosts an annual summer programme that aims to reduce the number of lost working days due to heat rash and heat stress cases within the company’s workforce; while simultaneously reducing the total number of recordable injuries over the same timeframe.
Introduced in 2006 as “Beat the Heat”, the core element of the programme is information sharing through awareness sessions, posters, banners and emails – the focus being on preventative activities such as acclimatization to the heat, regular hydration, monitoring personal hygiene, taking frequent breaks, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle; plus the importance of early reporting of any symptoms of potential heat-related illnesses. Since 2011, the programme has included a safety component that encourages safer behaviour so as to help employees cope with the weather-related changes in the work environment during summer. The programme is thus now known as “Beat the Heat and Be Safe”.
The DUBAL summer programme has again proved successful this year. So says Abdulla Kalban (President & Chief Executive Officer), who reports that DUBAL recorded zero lost days as a result of either heat rash or heat stress in the summer months of 2012. “This is the sixth and seventh consecutive years respectively that we have achieved and sustained these milestones. It’s a particularly remarkable achievement given that Ramadan fell in the peak of summer,” says Kalban. “Our success reflects increased awareness among our employees of the health risks in the occupational environment arising from the extremely high temperatures and the behavioural changes required of them, prompted by the programme’s targeted communications, activities and initiatives.”
Kalban adds that seven heat stress cases were recorded at DUBAL in 2012 and zero heat rash cases were recorded in 2012, compared to three cases in 2011. From a safety perspective, a 17 per cent decline in total injuries was recorded over the summer of 2012 (34 injuries) compared to the same period last year (41 injuries).
A supplementary “Healthy and Safe Lifestyle” sub-campaign, also introduced in 2011, again supported and reinforced the broader “Beat the Heat and Be Safe” programme this year. This component focuses on maintaining a healthy lifestyle by following a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and achieving a balance between work and home-life; the importance of hydrating regularly to avoid dehydration; monitoring personal health and hygiene; as well as the potential impact of higher ambient temperatures on an individual’s ability to work safely and productively. In addition to information-sharing and awareness sessions, the sub-campaign again included a Brisk Walking Marathon at DUBAL, which drew a field of more than 400 employees.
According to Kalban, a key factor in the summer programme’s continued success in 2012 was sustained communications throughout the season. “We again used an attention-grabbing template for all posters, presentation templates, emails, session invitations and other media used to communicate with our employees,” he says. “This was boosted by frequent messages to all employees, distributed via SMS technology, comprising safety and occupational health hints for the hotter months of the year. By reaching everyone at DUBAL in one way or another, the programme’s impact was multiplied and excellent results were achieved.”