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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Construction firm fined for negligence in Pearl-Qatar worker’s death

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Abraj Towers 2
Abraj Towers 2

A criminal court in Qatar has found a local company guilty of negligence and violating safety regulations after a worker fell to his death from an under-construction tower at the Pearl-Qatar last year.

The Nepali man worked for Redco Al Mana, which is building two towers for the island’s Abraj Quartier district. That area will eventually consist of 200 waterfront townhouses and seven residential towers – two of which form the “gateway” to the Pearl, according to Redco’s website.

The company was fined QR100,000 ($27,448) over the death, and its head of safety and security was also convicted in the case and fined QR10,000 ($2,744).

Redco and the manager were also ordered to pay QR200,000 ($54,896) in blood money to the victim’s family.

The verdict was handed down in April, but the reasoning behind the court’s verdict was issued only last week, and first published in Al Raya today.

The trial

The incident took place in April 2014, when, according to the coroner’s report, the worker fell off scaffolding on the seventh floor of one of the under-construction Abraj towers, and died of head injuries.

Under-construction Abraj Towers
Under-construction Abraj Towers

According to court documents seen by Doha News, the scaffolding that he fell from was not completely secured, as there should have been metal rods fixed on the sides. Safety harnesses and lighting of the area were also deemed inadequate.

The company and its senior employee were convicted of negligence, not setting up an effective supervision system that prevents serious accidents from taking place, failing to have proper safety procedures in place that led to the worker’s demise and not informing the worker of the dangers that come with the job.

In his written verdict, Judge Yasser Ali Al Zayyat said:

“Based on what was presented (to the court after reviewing) the incriminating evidence, it has been proven that the defendants committed the crime with all its aspects, so the court penalized them with a fine and blood money for the victim’s (family).”

In Qatar and other GCC countries, blood money is an Islamic provision that must be paid if a judge finds a person guilty of causing death or injury to another person, either accidentally or intentionally.

Defense arguments

During the court hearings, the company’s employee denied the charges, saying that he routinely inspected the scaffoldings, but that on the day of the accident, another employee did the inspection.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

He added that the victim did not “take permission” from the project’s engineer to go up to the seventh floor, despite being required to do so.

For his part, the project leader, Emad Abdel Rahman, testified that the victim’s death was “destiny and God’s will,” adding that he was willing to pay any compensation and transfer the body back to the victim’s country for burial.

He said that the head of safety and security did not know that the worker had gone up to the seventh floor. He explained that every group of 10 workers had a leader, and that it was this leader who requested the worker go up.

Previous court cases

Qatar’s court has issued similar verdicts in the past, though such decisions appear to be rare.

In late March, a local company was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter after one of its construction workers was killed working on a sewer project near the old airport. The company was fined thousands of dollars.

Amnesty International Researcher Mustafa Qadtri told Doha News at the time:

“This is one tragic case, but there are likely many other construction sites that the authorities need to proactively address. With the workers’ population expected to (keep rising) in the next few years, unless steps are taken, there is a risk that these types of deaths will increase unless more steps are taken.”

In 2013, Qatar’s Labor Inspection Department said that nearly 30 percent of companies working in the country were violating safety standards, the Gulf Times reported. However, they added that most transgressions were minor and simple.

Thoughts?

21 COMMENTS

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Diego
Diego
6 years ago

Some of the tales defence lawyers spool off lately remind me of the Iraqi information ministers daily updates during the 2nd Gulf War. Sad,bordering on comedy,but sad.

Simon
Simon
6 years ago
Reply to  Diego

Yep, Comical Ali as he was nicknamed. (He died a few days ago, as it happens).

Diego
Diego
6 years ago
Reply to  Simon

That’s him

terracotta
terracotta
6 years ago

high time the managers were taken to task.

Expat77
Expat77
6 years ago

10 to 15 judgements like this will make project managers fall in line and stop compromising safety at the cost of profits…

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Expat77

These judgements are a weekly event published in local Arabic papers, and dn hardly mentions them… They do little to deter because most of the time the Indian, Egyptian or Syrian foremen or site manager views the works lives and safety as unimportant not realizing what they are doing is wrong…

I just came back from a business trip in india… Believe me there no amount of regulation to stop unsafe work practices of the site managers and workers themselves have zero education on safety

Spirit
Spirit
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Good to have this perspective. It may help to make the financial penalties stiffer as this would make all the bigwigs sit up, take notice and take action to prevent further hits to their accounts.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
6 years ago
Reply to  Expat77

As noted below, these fines are common. To work, the fines need to be $1 million; that sort of amount would be enough to hit companies hard enough to affect change.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

What a poor defence, blame it on someone who cannot be called to court to testify.

“Emad Abdel Rahman, testified that the victim’s death was “destiny and God’s will”

It is good to see the authorties taking actions in cases like this and maybe it will make the supervisors and managers think twice before asking their staff to work in risky situations. However Mr Emad’s response is typical or some supervisors here and I doubt he would have had the same answer for the court if a Qatari had died in this way rather than an expendable Nepali.

Chilidog
Chilidog
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Someone that attributes a death on a worksite as “destiny and god’s will” has no place supervising a project where others’ safety is at stake.

johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago
Reply to  Chilidog

Exactly. He has no right to be anywhere near or around the project or the worksites because he will keep on coming up with this stupid excuses for such avoidable and preventable deaths

Myrddin
Myrddin
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

To be fair, he probably has a wall full of Masters Degrees to support his position?

Shame he appears not to have the Common Dog F*c& to back it up?

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago
Reply to  Myrddin

Deleting for being crass.

Simon
Simon
5 years ago
Reply to  ShabinaKhatri

That’s a new one, Shabina.

Please help us all by confirming how you are defining ‘crass’?

And will you apply your standards universally? (As I have noted previously, there is a feeling that on occasions you are somewhat partial in your moderating).

andrew hall
andrew hall
6 years ago

How kind of the manager to offer to repatriate the deceased, this is his obligation under the labouor law. Also his argument that he inspected scaffolds daily but on that day hadn’t could be checked against the scafftag if proper procedure was being followed. Sounds like these guys have got what they deserved, no compromise on safety is ever required.

Spirit
Spirit
6 years ago

It is good that blood money is tied to the judgement as few families would be able to hire lawyers to pursue compensation separately.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Spirit

They can still sue in civil court and lawyers would pick the case of they are guaranteed a fix percentage of the pay out

Rane de Beer
Rane de Beer
6 years ago

A bit old, but found various warnings about Redco company at http://www.qatarliving.com/forum/salary-allowances/posts/redco-construction-al-mana Especially comments by a ‘Jackson’. Hope more potential migrant laborers do their research before coming over

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago

The paltry level of the fine and the blood money speaks volumes about how important this sad event is to Qatar. I’d be interested to know just how many people agree that a death is Gods’ will, because I’m pretty sure that the Project Manager isn’t the only one.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago

About two years ago Redco employed a UK H&S rep on one of their sites. He quit within six months having realised that he would carry the can for any accidents on a site where H&S was impossible to enforce due to the attitude of an uneducated workforce trying to achieve impossible targets.

Haris Palakkal
Haris Palakkal
6 years ago

In many contracting companies the safety manager is just like a manikin
He is there just for the sake of the position. He generally reports to the construction or project manager who typically replies “destiny and God’s will,”
For many contractor’s, safety means money /time waste

The ultimate responsibility is with the Contractor Project Manager and he must be punished for his negligence.

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