With the number of conferences, summits and forums surrounding health, safety and environment (HSE) taking place in the region these days, one would be inclined to think it is a relatively new phenomenon. However, unbeknownst to some, HSE is a key element with many companies in Qatar. In fact, companies like Enertech Qatar have been in the business of offering HSE training for over 10 years.
Others are also in the fray and it is safe to say, that HSE training is now a competitive business. Little wonder, as all eyes are on Qatar with the country due to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup and numerous projects associated with the big event underway, HSE has a key role to play to ensure nothing goes awry when it comes to ongoing, underway or in the offing.
While bigger firms, such as the energy majors, offer HSE training in-house, many continue to outsource to companies who specialise in the field. In fact, even firms that offer in-house training also approach third parties to ensure the HSE specialisation is complete. According to Abin Sulaiman, finance and administration manager at Enertech Qatar: “Enertech has been responding to the needs of several sectors such as oil and gas, construction, hospitality, mega projects, education, transportation, among others, for 10 years now. HSE training entails health, safety and environmental training and consultancy, although there may be changes in requirements, depending on the type of industry.”
Competition requires continuous upgrades of an HSE training centre’s facilities. Enertech Qatar ploughs resources into its training facilities for its instructors’ further improvement through additional qualifications. Being highly involved in HSE awareness campaigns, the firm has created ways for Enertech to increase the HSE culture in existing clients’ companies and further. “One way of succeeding in this is providing free materials containing HSE content on a regular basis for all interested parties,” Sulaiman says.
Lineesh Nadukkudi, training manager at Enertech, adds: “Enertech Qatar aims to provide HSE training not only to firms who have requirements in terms of certification but also to organisations whose main intentions are to increase the level of awareness in safety for all the staff.” The company has delegates coming from various industries every day. Popularity is attributed to its state-of-the art facility, service and multilingual experienced male and female instructors. Enertech has not just gained local companies as regular clients, but also individuals who decide to trust the professional service provided.
Another important player in HSE training in Qatar is Petrotec. According to Petrotec Training Manager Hanna Lasrado: “Employees using equipment must become competent for the purpose of maintaining a healthy and safe working environment, preventing sources of pollution and conserving natural resources. In our oil and gas industry, it is especially prevalent for those personnel who work in hazardous areas of their fields to show competency in their work. HSE training covers a range of skills.”
Nadukkudi says: “There are many companies that have their own HSE facilities and do most of the training internally for their staff. However, there are cases where they require third-party approved training for their project requirements. Here, the training needs to be outsourced and this is where Enertech’s service comes in handy. The facilities required for offshore training (using practical training facilities) forces companies to opt for training providers.”
Increased levels of awareness in HSE concepts and standards have slowly crept into Qatar’s heavy industry over the last few years. “Some companies have always had a sufficiently well-established training programme for their personnel, being proactive with their training needs. Others have been reactive only when problems have surfaced and propelled them to take up safety measures,” Lasrado says. Now many organisations are taking steps to increase awareness and improve their employees’ knowledge of HSE principles
Lasrado agrees that HSE training is a competitive business. Any lag in offering the latest training facilities and methods could leave a company behind in the race for clients.
“Among the more generic courses that only require theory-based training or minimal hands-on and demonstration exercises, the competition amongst training providers is high.”
Course durations can be for as little as two to three hours while others can go on for 12 days. Of course, this depends on what type of training is being provided. Enertech boasts a healthy list of over 3,000 clients, which includes major companies from the oil and gas, rail, construction, hospitality and education sectors. Till date this year, there have been zero lost time injuries (LTIs) in projects with which Enertech is associated.
Courses on offer at Enertech include the UK qualification, National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH), which covers safety issues in management and workspace hazards at in-depth level. Another British qualification, Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) covers a good grounding in the basics of how to manage health and safety issues in the workplace and within teams. IOSH is the chartered body for health and safety professionals. It is the biggest professional health and safety organisation in the world, with more than 37,000 individual members.
Nadukkudi states that it is recommended to undergo some of the IOSH courses in order to start with a health and safety career. Experienced candidates should always opt for NEBOSH courses. NEBOSH was formed in 1979 as an independent examining board and awarding body with charitable status, offering a comprehensive range of globally-recognised, vocationally-related qualifications designed to meet the health, safety, environmental and risk management needs of all places of work in both the private and public sectors.
NEBOSH qualifications are recognised by the relevant professional membership bodies including the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management (IIRSM).
Enertech boasts of sophisticated facilities for professional training of delegates. Its simulation studio generates a realistic training environment for a wide range of water-based scenarios and emergencies. A simulation pool houses a helicopter simulator known as the Modular Egress Training Simulator (METS). It replicates specific helicopter/aircraft configurations and is used in simulating and learning how to survive in a ditching situation.
A purpose-built fire ground provides a safe and realistic training environment. The practical training focuses on the correct application techniques for a variety of extinguishers, fire blanket and fixed hose reels, and gives trainees the opportunity to use all types of extinguishers for dealing with fires involving solids, flammable liquids and gases. Artificial smoke conditions can also be created.
At Enertech, a confined space training facility has been built to mimic working conditions in confined spaces, such as manholes and chambers. The facility can provide hands-on experience of the hazards associated with confined space entry and gas testing. All training rooms are equipped with the latest technology, including audio-visual presentation systems, LED/LCD screens and are fully air-conditioned. Amenities for those undergoing training at Enertech include a canteen, which also caters to special dietary requirements. Prayer rooms are also available.
Training at Petrotec
There are no long-term contracts in the HSE training business as such. “Technical and HSE training is very subjective and depends on an employee’s skills and whether he is certified and has qualifications. Petrotec can get requests from end-users for training on 50 personnel or five,” says Lasrado.
Although not all energy firms in Qatar have their own HSE training facilities, even a giant company like Qatar Petroleum (QP), which has state-of-the art training facilities, have to outsource some training to centres. “They still go to the training provider’s onsite facility in order to use their equipment,” says Lasrado. Petrotec has an impressive client list, comprising the likes of QP, Qatargas, Maersk, Shell, Dolphin Energy, Oryx GTL, Gulf Drilling International and RasGas, among others.
The company has a licensed centre for niche technical training courses called CompEx from the UK covering electrical (five-days duration), mechanical (three-days duration)and Foundation courses. “These internationally-recognised courses, based upon the IEC international standards and supported by the Health and Safety Executive Board UK, provide competence-based training and assessment for electrical/instrumentation and mechanical technicians working in hazardous areas in offshore and onshore industrial environments,” says Lasrado.
These courses, save for the Foundation, cannot be carried out at clients’ sites as the assessments are required to be executed on UKAS and CompEx-audited and fixed equipment. The facilities at the Petrotec CompEx centre are unique and custom-built to include a realistic working plant and a simulated hazardous area. They are specifically for personnel who undertake the physical installation and assembly of new ‘Ex’ equipment and who perform maintenance and inspection on installed equipment in potentially explosive atmospheres, leading to a certificate of core competence valid for five years.
Other HSE training players
Doha Industrial Safety Services (DISS), which came into existence in 2006, offers occupational health and environmental management and comprehensive training programmes and health and safety services, according to the company’s website. Green Energy and Environmental Services Company (GEESC) specialises in HSE training and consultancy. Working with international partners, GEESC provides expertise from around the world. “Outsourcing environmental risk management services to GEESC allows our clients to focus on their primary business objectives and core competencies,” says the company. Qatar International Safety Centre (QISC) has been in business since 2001. It offers outsourced training management to the full range of emergency responses, fire prevention, health and safety, leadership, major emergency management, sea survival, transportation, and vocational training courses.
HSE training – crucial role
Judging by the many HSE training centres that exist in Qatar, it is clear that HSE is not a flavour of the month. The ‘E’ in HSE stands for environment, which is a buzzword these days. Companies are opting for cleaner fuels and environmental awareness is now on the rise in Qatar. Energy firms, for example, can ill-afford a leaking undersea pipeline which would send oil into the sea. Those who undergo training in HSE are taught to be conscious of environmental issues.
Health and safety, too, are key issues in this day and age. It is little wonder that companies proudly report that no man hours have been lost on account of accidents. Much of this can be credited to HSE training.
Safety, of course, is of paramount importance, particularly in sectors like construction and energy. Life on the offshore rigs can be hazardous at best and safety is a major area of concern, which is why many HSE training centres offer courses on survival at sea. The construction sector involves activity in often hazardous conditions, either underground or aboveground. Workers who have to climb high towers in the course of construction are among those who undergo HSE training, a simple misstep, and they could come hurtling down to the ground several hundreds of feet. Safety equipment also has to be in proper working order. Ideally, those manning rigs or construction foremen need to carry out through checks of their equipment before getting on the job.
The handling of chemicals and how to deal with fires is also crucial in high-risk industries. The energy sector is more susceptible to fires, which, should they spin out of control, can lead to all kinds of disasters. Chemicals are handled in practically all sectors and any leakage could lead to an environmental disaster. At the extreme, it could lead to something as horrific as India’s Bhopal gas tragedy, which killed thousands.
As more and more firms opt for HSE training, whether in-house or at any of the training centres, it can only benefit managements and workers. After all, a lost man hour due to an accident can sully a company’s reputation, not to mention a country that is under the scanner as it prepares to host the World Cup.