UNOPS recognized for safe and healthy workplace

COPENHAGEN – UNOPS was recently awarded one of the world’s most respected standards for occupational health and safety, recognizing its commitment to safe work practices on construction sites.

UNOPS received the OHSAS 18001 certification in July 2014, becoming one of the first United Nations organizations to be certified.

Before achieving the standard, UNOPS developed its own system for health and safety management, putting procedures, policies and controls in place to help the organization deliver infrastructure that complies with international best practice.

To date, three UNOPS offices are certified as OHSAS 18001- compliant: Pristina, Jerusalem and Copenhagen.

Jim Galloway, former Infrastructure Programme Manager in Jerusalem, and current member of UNOPS senior engineering team in Copenhagen, said he was proud to have contributed to the effort.   

"Over the past few years, efforts by the Jerusalem team have really lifted the standards in health and safety management on our infrastructure projects."

"I am very happy and proud to be part of a team that has pushed health and safety practices to international standards, contributing to UNOPS infrastructure practices globally," Mr Galloway added.

Protecting UNOPS personnel and contractors, but also members of the public, is of the highest priority. Among other things, UNOPS health and safety management system offers guidance on how to assess hazards, such as working at height, and enables project teams to put control measures in place. 

However, changing workplace culture can be a challenge. Jiries Awad, Project Engineer for UNOPS Jerusalem office, explained how he and his colleagues helped transform practices on building sites in Palestine.

"We started by supplying our workers with hard hats, reflective vests and safety boots because no one had their own," he said.

"Then we began holding regular 'tool box talks', where we gather all the workers together to identify potential hazards and explain the best way to complete a new activity before the work begins," he continued. (Read more about Jiries' experience.)

Receiving OHSAS 18001 certification reconfirms UNOPS commitment to health and safety and mitigating risks in the infrastructure projects it implements on behalf of its partners.

In 2013, UNOPS received ISO 14001 certification for its development of an environmental management system that maximizes environmental benefits and minimizes negative impacts of infrastructure projects.

As of November 2014, six UNOPS offices are now certified as ISO 14001-compliant: Afghanistan, Copenhagen, Guatemala, Jerusalem, Pristina and Sri Lanka.