United Arab Emirates: Environment Health & Safety Legal Reform In Abu Dhabi

On 30 March 2012, the second version of the Environment, Health and Safety Management System (EHSMS) was launched in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. In this update we take a look at the early days of EHSMS, the changes that have been recently introduced, and some issues EHSMS may face in the future, as it is adopted by entities in Abu Dhabi.


Formally introduced by Decree in 2009, EHSMS aimed at providing a framework to assist public and private entities identify, control and reduce workplace risks and the impacts of their business activities on the environment, human health and the safety of workers and the community. Prior to its introduction, there was a lack of detail when it came to health and safety matters, with entities having to look to a raft of dated Federal and Emirate level legislation in order to find out what the overarching principles were. EHSMS adopted a more international approach, seeking to draw upon experience and best practice in health and safety issues from around the globe.

EHSMS started out life under the remit of the Environment Authority – Abu Dhabi, but in 2010 a dedicated EHS Centre was established by the Abu Dhabi Executive Council to oversee and monitor the implementation of EHSMS in Abu Dhabi. The EHS Centre plays a coordinating role between the various Sector Regulatory Authorities (SRAs) and government entities on EHSMS matters and also reports to the Executive Council on progress.

In the past couple of years, the number of regulated sectors has also increased with education, food, waste water and commercial activities joining the original group comprising building & construction, energy, health, waste, transport, industry and tourism. The SRAs have been working towards developing their tailored EHSMS, nominating entities to participate in their sectors, reviewing the EHSMS developed by their 'Nominated Entities' and monitoring implementation through inspections and audits. 

Unifying EHSMS

In late 2010, the EHS Centre began the process of updating the EHSMS with a view to creating a more integrated system, by filling gaps and eliminating duplicates and conflicting regulations at the sector level. The EHS Centre has created more of a 'one stop shop' of requirements on relevant topics, in the hope that entities will be able to effectively implement EHSMS in a unified manner.

The revised structure, launched in March 2012, consists of the following layers:

  1. EHSMS Decree 42 of 2009, EHS Policy, EHSMS Manual and Glossary of Terms;
  2. RF Elements and EHS Regulatory Instruments (comprising Codes of Practice, Standards & Trigger Values and Mechanisms);
  3. Guidelines (comprising Technical and EHSMS Guidance Documents);
  4. Sector EHSMS; and
  5. Government and Private Entities' EHSMS.

What has changed?

The key changes to the EHSMS framework include:

  1. Introduction of RF Elements (akin to the Codes of Practice under the old system) to define the requirements of the EHSMS, covering topics such as management of contractors; emergency management; and monitoring, investigation and reporting.
  2. Introduction of Regulatory Instruments to define mandatory requirements relating to the practices and procedures to be followed in a particular subject area, comprising:

    1. Codes of Practice covering topics ranging from hazardous substances through to personal protective equipment and environmental management. Some of the 55 Codes of Practice are still under development.
    2. Standards & Trigger Values (akin to the previous Standards & Guideline Values) setting out the level of pollutants prescribed by regulations that is not to be exceeded during a given time in a defined occupational environment. The Standards & Trigger Values are arranged by subject matter and include air, land, water and noise.
    3. Mechanisms setting out the processes to be followed on a variety of topics, such as identifying, nominating and registering entities, EHSMS performance and incident reporting.

  3. Introduction of Guidelines to provide guidance and advice on how to achieve a requirement as defined in a RF Element or Regulatory Instrument, made up of:

    1. Technical Guidelines covering topics such as air quality management, safety in the heat and safe working in confined spaces. These are designed to represent best practice advice, and as such are not mandatory.
    2. AD EHSMS Guidance Documents providing a detailed explanation or information on a specific EHSMS subject, such as EHS roles, responsibilities and structures; key performance indicators; and self-regulation.

All of the RF Elements, Regulatory Instruments and Guidelines are available for download via the EHS Centre's website (http://www.adehsms.ae/Pages/Default.aspx).

The future for EHSMS

The revised EHSMS structure is still in its infancy, having only been launched in March 2012, and so the sectors and their nominated entities will, no doubt, still be in the transition phase.

Hopefully we will see an increased awareness of EHS issues in the UAE as a result of the updates to EHSMS in Abu Dhabi. However, the main issue which remains unresolved is enforcement, and so it remains to be seen how the EHS Centre and SRAs will tackle compliance under the new regime.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions