Wherever you go within Qatar Foundation (QF) – at Education City, or further afield – the work of one of the organization’s key components will always surround you.The ambitious, dynamic scope of QF’s vision and mission, and the national, regional, and global impact and benefit it creates, is matched by an unwavering commitment to protecting, nurturing, and enhancing its own environment.
If Qatar’s people are its greatest natural resource, the same principle applies at QF, where a safe, secure, sustainable, and healthy setting for work, study, creativity, innovation, achievement, and the unlocking of human potential is both a necessity and a priority.
The responsibility for ensuring that such an environment exists falls to QF’s Health, Safety, Security & Environment (HSSE) Directorate; a multifaceted cornerstone of everyday life at QF. For HSSE, challenges are diverse, vigilance and diligence are the watchwords, and pride in serving every member of the QF community is the motivating energy.
Leading and inspiring
With five departments – serving different needs, but unified in providing the safest, healthiest, and best surroundings for QF’s staff, students, contractors, and visitors – under its remit, achieving environmental sustainability as a primary purpose, and educating people about the need to be health, safety, and security conscious as a key feature of its work, HSSE seeks to lead and inspire, to set an example defined by excellence.
“An environment that is truly safe, secure, healthy, and sustainable can only be achieved through a culture that embraces the need for all these qualities, and recognizes how they lead to positivity, proactivity, high performance, and fulfillment,” said Amal Al Thani, Executive Director, HSSE.
“At HSSE, we strive to ensure and maintain the highest possible standards of health and safety in the workplace, seek constant improvement, and raise awareness of the fact that what we practice is everyone’s responsibility, and to everyone’s benefit. We strategize, implement, and innovate, but we also guide, inform, and empower.”
International testament to HSSE’s work came in 2015, when QF received the prestigious gold award at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ Occupational Health and Safety Awards, recognizing its commitment to workplace safety and raising health and safety standards in Qatar; and an International Safety Award with merit from the British Safety Council, presented following QF’s first ever submission to the globally respected awarding organization. These accolades reflect tangible progress and achievement on the ground; progress and achievement that enhance QF as a place to work, learn, grow, and experience.
Recognizing that a healthy organization is a happy, energized, productive organization, HSSE’s Health Department provides the support and surroundings that cultivate well-being among the QF community. “We are dedicated to reducing workplace stress, and providing a working and living environment of the utmost quality, serving the entire QF community through a range of services,” said Dr Yousuf Al Shammari, Health Manager, HSSE.
“These services address, among other areas, indoor air quality, dust, noise, lighting, temperature, food and facility hygiene, and stringent risk assessments. Through inspections, analysis and, where necessary, investigations, we maintain and elevate standards, act on concerns, and demonstrate that health is at the heart of QF.”
Enhancing benefit and raising awareness
By enhancing its health and hygiene studies, HSSE has intensified the level of detail it compiles and the scope of the recommendations it provides on workplace health matters, accelerating any necessary action.
Encompassing QF schools and partner universities, recreation and outdoor activity areas, and other facilities, the palpable benefit of these studies to the QF community, and the awareness they raise of the importance of workplace health, has expanded.
Alongside building a healthy workplace culture, HSSE has also ensured potentially lifesaving help is available when emergencies arise, and mere minutes can matter. The QF First Aid Program provides basic medical support to those who become ill or suffer injuries before an ambulance arrives, with HSSE providing Automated External Defibrillators and first aid boxes – alongside instruction posters – at all QF work sites. Its health department encourages people working at or near these locations to volunteer to learn first aid, allowing them to make a vital contribution to QF community life.
For HSSE, safeguarding people’s health runs parallel to sustaining QF’s environment. The water quality control procedures implemented by HSSE’s Environment Department provide assurance of the safety of QF’S drinking water, while a pilot project aimed at reducing the quantity of plastic bottles used at QF by 25 percent outstripped expectations – the number fell by 42 percent.
More detailed insight into the air that the QF community breathes has been made available through HSSE’s Ambient Air Quality Program. Using state-of-the-art technology positioned at designated sites at QF, ambient air quality and pollution levels are being recorded in both real-time and historical form, with the results being disseminated online.
As well as broadening people’s understanding of the impact of air quality on their health and lifestyles, the program is amassing a bank of data that has the potential to support future research and analysis. Forthcoming projects will include QF’s first dedicated Sustainability Report, illustrating its performance in, and the strength of its commitment to, sustainability; and the development of a fully integrated, 15-year Waste Management Strategy whose goal will be to ensure all of Education City’s waste is recycled or reused – making it a ‘zero waste’ environment.
Meanwhile, an agreement with the International Sustainability Alliance has initiated annual sustainability reporting at QF – in line with leading global organizations – providing an enhanced system of measuring, benchmarking, and understanding the environmental performance buildings, and supporting QF in reducing CO2 emissions, conserving water and energy, and minimizing waste.
“This represents an essential tool in fulfilling QF’s commitment to sustainability,” said Mohammed Bakhamis, Director, Health, Safety & Environment, HSSE, “allowing key performance indicators to be set, the sustainability performance of QF’s buildings to be benchmarked both internally and externally, and goals to be realized for the benefit of our environment and our community.”
Security with sustainability
The strategy for security within this environment and community now has an additional, two-wheeled dimension, through HSSE’s introduction of bike patrols. Complementing QF’s Open Campus initiative – launched in December 2014, and allowing visitors to enter, experience, and enjoy Education City without the need for document inspections – the patrols represent a mobile, flexible, strategic, and targeted security presence that can be determined by specific needs and patterns, such as traffic levels and event locations.
“As well as supporting the security monitoring of Education City, due to their capacity to enter areas that cars cannot, and being capable of providing assistance in the event of an emergency, the bike patrols support QF’s sustainability agenda,” said Al Thani. “They are an environmentally-friendly mode of transport that also promotes cycling as a lifestyle choice in a highly visible fashion.”
Alongside its central role in QF’s day-to-day operation, strategic direction, and overarching mission, HSSE is supporting the nation in addressing its priorities, among them the welfare of migrant workers. A commitment to improving their working conditions, sealed through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between QF and the Ministry of Labor in November 2014, has seen QF organize a training program for the Ministry’s inspectors.
Information communication technology access is being provided for migrant workers at QF whose lives and knowledge will be enriched by greater connectivity, following the January 2015 signing of an MoU between QF and the then Ministry of Information Communications Technology, in support of the Ministry’s Better Connections Program. And the Qatar Academy Welfare Facility, which became operational in 2015, is broadening the services available to transient labor workers at QF.
With contractors’ adherence to the Qatar Foundation Mandatory Standards for Worker Welfare being closely monitored, under QF’s Migrant Worker Welfare initiative, QF is demonstrating the pivotal position that principle and dignity hold in its approach to health and safety.
This approach combines HSSE’s capacity to take swift and tangible action in the present, while retaining a long-term vision for continuously improving health, safety, and environmental standards into the future. It is an approach devoted to pursuing, achieving, and promoting sustainability. Above all, it is an approach focused on people – the people who have, in QF, an environment to be proud of.