February 19, 2020

Saudi Arabia puts Health and Safety at the centre of Saudisation

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Labour and Social Development issued a new Resolution¹ that sets out minimum requirements for employers to appoint dedicated Saudi Health and Safety (HSE) Officers in the workforce and to facilitate their work. The HSE Resolution has a dual purpose of focusing on improving HSE practices in the workplace, as well as boosting Saudisation policies by requiring HSE Officers to be Saudi nationals. This article highlights what measures employers must take in order to comply with the new HSE Resolution in Saudi Arabia.

The HSE Resolution has a dual purpose of focusing on improving HSE practices in the workplace, as well as boosting Saudisation policies by requiring HSE Officers to be Saudi nationals

Attached to the new law is a manual which provides further explanatory notes on how the Resolution is to be implemented.

The HSE regulatory framework has been the focus of the Ministry of Labour and Social Development for some time, with amendments to the HSE provisions in the KSA Labour Law being implemented in 2015 (see here for more detail). More recently, the 2018 Resolution² sought  to give employers a practical framework within which to manage HSE issues in the workplace by setting prescriptive measures employers must comply with (see here  for more detail).

The Resolution, which is the latest in a string of Saudisation resolutions brought into place, divides employers into two categories:

a) Employers with higher HSE requirements based on their economic activity
b) All other employers.

The requirement to appoint HSE Officers is incremental and employers are obliged to provide training to individuals to develop and promote them in such role.

Group A: Employers with higher obligations

Group A consists of employers with the following economic activities: construction and building, oil and natural gas, electricity, water and gas, health services, mines and quarries, cement, petrochemicals, coal and rubber, ready concrete, rock, granite and bricks. Employers within the following manufacturing industries are also included: plastics, beverages in glass bottles, disposable artificial materials, minerals, chemical , transport sector and general consumer manufacturing, manufacturing of food goods, plastics, weaving, construction and carpentry materials and machines, household appliances and accessories, dairy factories, jewellery and minting.

Employers in Group A are obliged to appoint one HSE Officer for every 50 employees the employer employs, with employer categories following the Nitaqat system depending on headcount.  The HSE Officer requirements apply to medium, big, and giant employers (as defined under the Nitaqat system) who are required to employ HSE officers up to an equivalent number of 2% of their total workforce.  The HSE Officer requirement is being phased in stages, with the legislation obliging all Group A employers to be compliant with the 2% requirement up to a specified percentage of the overall requirement by certain dates, as shown in the table below.

headcount Employer compliance percentage requirement Employer compliance percentage requirement Employer compliance percentage requirement
  30% 50% 70%
500 employees + 1 April 2020 1 January 2021 1 January 2022
200-499 employees 1 April 2020 1 January 2021 1 January 2022
100-199 employees 2 August 2020    
50-99 employees 4 October 2020    

The Manual sets out further detail on how the ratio for Group A employers works and the number of HSE Officers employers have to employ to meet the percentage requirements, as well as how the split between professional and practitioner HSE Officers works.

Size of employer Facility HSE Officer ratio  1:50 HSE Officer requirement 30% HSE Officer requirement  50% HSE Officer requirement  70% Requirement for 30%-40% professional HSE Officers Requirement for 60%-70% for practitioner HSE Officers
Total number of employees employed Number of HSE Officers required Number of HSE Officers required from implementation Number of HSE Officers required from 1 January 2021 Number of HSE Officers required from 1 January 2022 Number of professionals Number of Practitioners
50-100 2 1 1 1 1 1
101-200 3 1 2 2 1 2
201-300 4 1 2 3 2 2
301-400 5 2 3 4 2 3
401-500 6 2 3 4 2 4
501-600 7 2 4 5 3 4
601-700 8 2 4 6 3 5
701-800 9 3 5 6 4 5
801-00 10 3 5 7 4 6
501-550 11 3 6 8 4 7
551-600 12 4 6 8 5 7
601-650 13 4 7 9 5 8
651-700 14 4 7 10 5 8
701-750 15 5 8 11 6 9
751-800 16 5 8 11 6 10
801-850 17 5 9 12 7 10
851-900 18 5 9 13 7 11
901-950 19 6 10 13 8 11
951-1000 20 6 10 14 8 12
1001-1050 21 6 11 15 8 13
and so on ......... ......... ......... ......... ......... .........

Group B: Other Employers

Employers in this category are obliged to have 1 HSE officer for every 100 employees employed, with HSE Officers required to make up 1% of their total workforce.

HEADCOUNT EMPLOYER COMPLIANCE PERCENTAGE REQUIREMENT EMPLOYER COMPLIANCE PERCENTAGE REQUIREMENT EMPLOYER COMPLIANCE PERCENTAGE REQUIREMENT
  30% 50% 70%
Macro and big facilities (500 workers and more) 1 April 2020 1 January 2021 1 January 2022
Medium C (200 to 499 workers) 1 April 2020    
Medium C (100 to 199 workers) 2 August 2020
Medium C (50 to 99 workers) 4 October 2020

The Manual sets out further detail on how the ratio works for Group B employers and the number of HSE Officers such employers have to employ to meet the percentage requirements, as well as how the split between professional and practitioner HSE Officers works.

SIZE OF EMPLOYER FACILITY HSE OFFICER RATIO  1:100 HSE OFFICER REQUIREMENT 30% HSE OFFICER REQUIREMENT  50% HSE OFFICER REQUIREMENT  70% REQUIREMENT FOR 30%-40% PROFESSIONAL HSE OFFICERS REQUIREMENT FOR 60%-70% FOR PRACTITIONER HSE OFFICERS

Total number of employees employed

Number of HSE Officers required

Number of HSE Officers required from implementation

Number of HSE Officers required from 1 January 2021

Number of HSE Officers required from 1 January 2022

Number of professionals

Number of Practitioners

50-100 1 0 1 1 0 1
101-200 2 1 1 1 1 2
201-300 3 1 2 2 1 2
301-400 4 1 2 2 1 1
401-500 5 2 3 4 2 2
501-600 6 2 3 4 2 2
601-700 7 2 4 5 3 4
701-800 8 2 4 6 3 4
801-900 9 3 5 6 4 5
901-1000 10 3 5 7 4 6
1001-1100 11 4 6 8 5 7
1101-1200 12 4 6 8 5 7
and so on ......... ......... ......... ......... ......... .........

HSE Officers – Qualifications

As indicated in the above tables, the Resolution separates HSE Officers into two categories; professional and practitioners.  Within any organisation, the number of professional HSE Officers should be 30-40% of the total number of HSE Officers and the number of practitioners should make up the remaining 60-70% of total HSE Officers in the organisation.

Professional HSE Officers are those with the following qualifications:

  • A Masters or Ph.D. certificate in occupational health and safety from a local or internationally approved entity
  • A bachelor in occupational health and safety or any other field from a local or internationally approved entity
  • A diploma in occupational health and safety from a local or internationally approved entity, and not less than ten years of practical experience in the occupational health and safety field

Overseas qualifications permitted subject to obtaining an equivalency certificate.

An HSE Practitioner is someone possessing a diploma in occupational health and safety from a local or internationally approved entity (overseas qualifications permitted subject to obtaining an equivalency certificate); and less than ten years of practical experience in the occupational health and safety field.

When registering HSE Officers with GOSI, an employer is required to provide the individual's HSE certificate number.

Regulatory Fines

The Ministry of Labour and Social Development applies the following fines:

  • SAR 25,000 for not complying with health and safety regulations
  • SAR 5,000 for not publishing health and safety rules in the workplace

Conclusion

Given the various HSE regulations now in place, it is imperative that employers keep up to date with the latest requirements and ensure that they do not fall foul of their continued health and safety obligations. Employers should also be mindful that HSE legislation has been issued by other government authorities such as the Civil Defence and the Ministry of Interior, which may apply.

* Resolution No. 76509 came into effect on 15/4/1441 HijrA
* Resolution No. 161238 dated 10/8/1439H coming into effect on 17/10/1439H corresponding to 1 July 2018