Two charged over scaffold fall deaths

The site engineer and labour supervisor at a Dubai construction site where three people were killed after scaffolding collapsed have been charged with criminal negligence.

DUBAI // The site engineer and labour supervisor at the Dubailand project where a scaffolding collapse killed two workers at the weekend have been charged with criminal negligence.

Police also confirmed yesterday the death of a third man, who suffered serious injuries and was treated at Rashid Hospital after the accident.

Four building workers have now been confirmed dead and more than a dozen were injured after scaffolding at worksites in Abu Dhabi and Dubai collapsed after a weekend of high winds and rain.

But Dubai Police alleged the people in charge of the site, not the weather, were to blame.

"The two men have been detained and criminal negligence charges have been pressed against them," said a spokesman for the Dubai Police CID.

"It is definitely an issue of negligence but its extent is still not decided."

He said the case was in the process of being referred to Public Prosecution.

In Abu Dhabi, five men fell from a building next to the Euro Hotel on Muroor Road on Friday after the scaffolding collapsed for the second time in two days. Police said one of the men died.

Abdul Aziz Zurub, the Abu Dhabi Municipality manager of health, safety and environment, said yesterday he had received the initial accident report but could not disclose any information.

“All the information is with the police,” Mr Zurub said.

He would not verify whether the accident was caused by weak scaffolding, strong winds or negligence.

“There is no accident without a reason,” Mr Zurub said. “We are just now waiting for the final detailed report.”

Abu Dhabi Police said they would release details of the accident today.

In Dubai, police have determined that the main reason for the accident was that there was not enough support for the scaffolding, which was not properly connected, the police spokesman said.

He dismissed weather as a factor, saying that if it had been, there would have been accidents at other construction sites across Dubai on Saturday.

Marwan Al Mohammed, the head of the engineering supervision section at Dubai Municipality’s buildings department, said yesterday that according to preliminary information weak scaffolding caused the accident at the site on Dubai-Al Ain Road.

“The scaffolding that is fixed to the building became loose, leading it to collapse,” Mr Al Mohammed said, adding that action would be taken against the contracting company if it were found to have violated safety regulations.

“There will of course be action against the contracting company as per the UAE law. We have to see exactly the percentage of responsibility of the contracting company in this accident.”

He said a detailed report on the Dubailand accident would also be ready today.

“Investigations are going on,” Mr Al Mohammed said. “We will have full information about the cause of the accident in a day’s time.”

Consultants from the project said they had taken all safety measures while erecting the scaffolding.

“It was certified by a third party approved by Dubai Municipality,” said the engineer Nader Ali, the project manager for the consultancy Adnan Saffarini. “We are not able to understand how this accident could have happened.”

Al Qandeel is the main contractor for the site, he said.

Mr Ali said Adnan Saffarini was waiting for the reports from the municipality and police to determine the cause of the accident.

“Wind could be a factor but we don’t know until investigations are finished,” he said.

Mr Ali said there were 200 workers at the site when the scaffolding crumbled, and that he had reached the site 15 minutes after the accident happened.

“Workers would be compensated as per UAE laws,” he said. “The company is already following up the case. Insurance is provided for the workers.”

Mr Ali said construction on the project began two years ago and was due for completion in another two or three months.

He also confirmed the death of one more person yesterday.

“One more person died this morning,” he said yesterday. “He was in critical condition since [Saturday].”

Mr Ali also said a fourth person remains in critical condition in the Dubai hospital.

“Two dead workers belonged to Al Qandeel Contracting Company while one worker is from a labour supplying company,” he said.

One of the construction workers who died in Dubai has been identified by other workers as Mohammed Javed Jafar Pawte.

Mr Pawte, 30, from Rajasthan in India, worked for Al Qandeel Contracting for the past 20 months as a mason.

“He has three kids and parents who live in India,” said one of his colleagues who identified the body. “Initially, I didn’t have proper information whether he died in the accident. I went to the hospital and checked with the police to confirm his death. It was shocking.”

The colleague said Mr Pawte had two daughters and a son, and was from a part of Rajasthan known as Thuru, near Jaipur.

“We are in a state of shock,” he said. “He was with us when we started the work and died a few hours later. It’s unbelievable.”

The other worker who died on Saturday in the accident, from Bangladesh, was believed to be from a labour supply company.

He had reported to work for the first time at the site, according to other workers. No one from the contracting company was available for comment.

Workers said the man who died yesterday in the hospital was also from Bangladesh.

In Abu Dhabi, the project manager on the site said he was still not sure how the accident happened.

Abdullah, who works for Al Diyar General Contracting and requested that only his first name be published, said that in his seven years of working at the company he had never before seen an accident like this one.

“I have a lot of experience,” he said. “This is the first time we have such a problem. Everything has always been stable before. This is my first accident in 20 years working in [Abu Dhabi]. SubhanAllah (Glory be to Allah) how this happened.”

Abdullah said an investigation was being conducted to check on the safety of all workers.

A person who answered the phone at the Abu Dhabi building contractor Golden Planners Consultants said the company was not involved in the accident, even though it was listed as consultant to the project.