Safety first

3M country business leader for safety, security and protection services Walid Feghali rates the quality of on-site safety in the Middle East.
Safety first
By Sarah Blackman
Sat 30 Jan 2010 04:00 AM

3M country business leader for safety, security and protection services Walid Feghali rates the quality of on-site safety in the Middle East.

How successful was the recent Intersec security and safety trade fair?

The event was quite busy and we didn’t expect it to be. We have exhibited at Intersec almost every year and, compared to last year, it was very successful. Intersec is a very important trade fair, which gives us the opportunity to display the range of products that we offer.

How does your company ensure the safety of construction workers?

Workers are exposed to dust, chemicals and to hazards and, for each type application, we have the right product for protection. Workers need helmets, but these helmets can deteriorate if they are exposed to UV-rays. We have a special technology, which lets the worker know when the helmet needs replacing. We also have a huge range of hearing protection products, including ear plugs and ear muffs and we also offer eye protection products.

Will you be introducing any new products this year?

At the moment, we are promoting our communication range – our ear muffs have microphones attached to them so workers can speak to each other from different ends of a construction site. A supervisor located at ground level could speak to a crane operator, for example. We want to present the communication range in an efficient way.

How would you rate the standards of on site safety in the Middle East, on a scale of one to ten?

I would rate it as a four out of ten at this point in time. We have to keep hammering the importance of safety by holding seminars and presenting demonstrations to improve this figure. We are actively working with the Dubai Municipality to elevate awareness and safety standards. Damage to the eyes, ears and lungs is irreversible so it is important that safety knowledge is past on to contractors, supervisors and workers so that the right tools are provided. How do you encourage companies to invest in your solutions during the current economic climate?

When clients get to know the advantages and benefits of the products they will invest and make sure their workers are protected from harm. I don’t like the negative outlook people have towards the economy. The downturn is behind us now and we need to be optimistic. We have a large sales team and we go to the end users we explain what we offer in detail and demonstrate how they are used. Once the products have been sold, we then train the workers on how to use them. We also conduct a lot of safety seminars, which don’t just cover what 3M does, but attempt to increase safety awareness.

Have you witnessed an improvement of on site safety over the last year?

I would say that we have seen a lot of improvement in on site safety and the level of awareness is getting better. We have a dream that one day every single individual will know which products to use so that workers can be safe and productive on site.

What are your hopes for 2010?

We have a new construction safety product coming online very soon. It will be a key product for us but I don’t want to discuss the details at this moment. In terms of projects, our approach will remain the same – to promote our products and raise awareness about construction safety.

In the 15 years spent at 3M, Feghali has progressed up the company ladder. He started as a business development manager for the Middle East, Egypt and Pakistan and, in 2003, he became the country general manager for Kuwait and Iraq before being appointed as the country business leader for the Middle East in 2005.

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