Simon Hatson discussed the barriers to employee engagement at IOSH's Middle East Conference in Oman

23 May 2016

Offshore Group Chair Simon Hatson discussed the barriers to employee engagement at IOSH’s Middle East Conference in Oman.

Simon reflected on his own experience of working in the offshore industry, exploring the complexity of managing a multi-disciplinary, multi-national workforce.

He said that a typical vessel would have crew on board from many different countries, and while language served as an obvious barrier on the vessels, this was managed via a combination of supervision & independent assessment of operational language prior to mobilisation.

Even though language barriers could be overcome, Simon said, there were other barriers, both cultural and operational which were also found to hinder engagement of parts of the workforce. This included:

  • Difference in Hierarchal structure across the departments.
  • Nature of employment terms and conditions.
  • The perception of what ‘had the potential to cause harm’ differed significantly from the company view.
  • Raising concerns or ‘complaint’ for many simply went against their cultural norm.
  • A passive approach to health and safety.

In his speech, entitled ‘Understanding and challenging variances in employee engagement’ Simon identified from the case study that was completed that key to overcoming these issues was good leadership, but this could only be achieved by providing a range to tools and processes designed to support the leaders in their role.  

The presentation was one of several different presentations at the conference, which was held at the Grand Hyatt in Muscat on Wednesday 27 April.

At the conference, organisations were called on to get behind IOSH’s No Time to Lose occupational cancer campaign. Delegates heard from IOSH President Karen McDonnell about some of the steps their organisations can take to protect millions of workers.

Karen told the conference that exposure to silica dust can cause lung cancer. It is estimated by Dr Jukka Takala and Boon Kiat Tan, of Singapore’s Workplace Safety and Health Institute, that more than 940,000 people are exposed to silica dust at work in the Middle East every year. About 250 people die every year from lung cancer caused by silica dust exposure.

Other presentations at the one-day event included systems for managing working at height while IOSH’s executive director of membership James Thorne discussing the self-assessment tool.

Photos from the Conference:

Middle East Conference

Middle East Conference

Middle East Conference

Middle East Conference