There is no break from the heat
As temperatures soar workers are still falling ill despite midday break
The blistering heat continues to play havoc with the health of construction workers - despite their companies adhering to the midday break rules.
Currently, work under direct sunlight is banned from 12.30pm to 3pm as per UAE labour laws, until September 15.
The move is designed to give workers, particularly construction labourers, some respite from the stifling heat and energy-sapping humidity of the UAE summer.
However, even though employers ensure their workers take breaks, some have admitted they have to treat many on site for heat-related illnesses, with temperatures soaring above 45C, accompanied by 80-90 per cent humidity.
At a site on Abu Dhabi’s Reem Island, one firm, SEIDCO General Contracting, has installed its own medical bay with an experienced nurse to look after the 700 labourers on site.
The nurse, Jerry Rajan, said he sees up to 10 cases of dehydration and heat stress every day.
“The labourers are brought to this clinic after suffering mostly from dehydration,” he said.
“I give them oral rehydration salts, water and make them rest for an hour or two.”
Indian labourer Amarjeet Singh, 54, who has worked in the UAE for more than 30 years, said: “Every year it keeps getting hotter.
“We make sure we have a good breakfast before we start, otherwise we will collapse during work.”
SEIDCO’s safety engineer, Benjamin Omoziki, said the firm tried to make sure its workers receive rest and hydration.
He told 7DAYS: “We provide the workers with cold water and rehydration salts on every floor so in case someone feels sick or dizzy, they do not need to rush somewhere else to hydrate.”
Safety Engineer Benjamin Omoziki added: “We have industrial fans across the site for some air and an ice room which can be accessed by any worker to cool himself. “The situation would be worse if the workers are not rested in the hottest period of the day.” 7DAYS spoke to hospitals that have been receiving labourers. Sarhad Clinic in Musaffah, said it sees four to five cases of heat stress every week, while nearby LLH Hospital sees at least three a week. NMC Abu Dhabi and Burjeel Abu `Dhabi both reported seeing between two and three cases every week. According to the Ministry of Labour’s break rules, construction firms must provide cold water throughout the day and air-conditioned resting areas during the break. However, several doctors suggested more could be done. Dr Zeeshan Khan, a Specialist in Internal Medicine at Medeor 24x7 Hospital in Dubai, said regular breaks to hydrate, removing heavy clothing and rotating shifts under the sun can reduce the risk of heat stress and dehydration. He said: “The workers should not be designated to work under the heat for a full day, they should be rotated, maybe given one or two hours under the sun in batches.”
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