Break time is over – but heat is still on for work­ers

… and it’s not over yet for work­ers, re­port Ma­hak Man­nan and Is­mail Se­bug­waawo

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - ma­hak@7days.ae

Firms are be­ing urged to keep on tak­ing pre­cau­tions for em­ploy­ees work­ing out­doors even af­ter the mid­day break rule ends to­day. The rule bans labour­ers from work­ing un­der the heat be­tween 12.30pm and 3pm through­out the in­tense sum­mer heat. How­ever, come Sun­day there will be no le­gal re­quire­ment for firms to give an ex­tended break, mean­ing for many labour­ers they will be back to eight-hour shifts with one hour off. How­ever, some con­struc­tion com­pa­nies have told 7DAYS they will vol­un­tar­ily be ex­tend­ing breaks if deemed nec­es­sary. Os­sama Mo­hamed Han­tash, con­struc­tion man­ager at a Sei­dco site on Reem Is­land, said that the Min­istry of Hu­man Re­sources sends out ad­vi­sories to firms when con­di­tions are ex­pected to be bad. “It is still very hot and the ac­tual sta­tus within the site is hot­ter, we can­not make peo­ple work in those con­di­tions con­tin­u­ously, no one should be work­ing in such hot tem­per­a­tures,” he added.

“So when­ever the tem­per­a­ture goes higher than 40 de­grees Cel­sius and hu­mid­ity ex­ceeds nor­mal lev­els, we give longer breaks of up to three hours.”

Mean­while, Ben­jamin Omoziku, a safety en­gi­neer at Sei­dco, said this year has felt much hot­ter com­pared with 2015.

He said: “In July we had up to 12 cases a day of de­hy­dra­tion or heat re­lated is­sues and Au­gust was the peak when we saw up to 18 cases a day.”

Tem­per­a­tures in the com­ing week are ex­pected to reach highs of 42C, while hu­mid­ity is ex­pected to go up to 81 per cent, ac­cord­ing to weather ser­vice ac­cuweather.com.

The heat re­mains sap­ping, ac­cord­ing to some work­ers.

In­dian labourer Kash­meer Singh, 48 said: “It is still very hot, we still feel very hot dur­ing the day and we are so used to hav­ing three hours off it will be a lit­tle dif­fi­cult to go back to hav­ing only one-hour breaks. We hope to get longer breaks if the con­di­tions get bad,” he added.

And Bangladeshi worker Mo­hammed Su­lay­man, 26, said: “We will feel the pinch in the change of sched­ule for a few days and will take a cou­ple more to go back to nor­mal sched­ule.

“We will go back to keep­ing our own per­sonal one litre wa­ter bot­tles with us in­di­vid­u­ally be­cause it is go­ing to be hard.”

Giv­ing work­ers an ex­tended break on hot­ter days is very im­por­tant, said Dr Ana Bu­rat­tin, from the En­docrinol­ogy and Metabolic Dis­eases Depart­ment at Bur­jeel Hos­pi­tal.

She said: “When the tem­per­a­ture out­side is more than our body, it starts to be­come a health prob­lem and days now are still very hot.

“We can sweat up to one litre if we stand out­side in the heat for an hour, which means longer and reg­u­lar breaks are very im­por­tant.

“Also good work sched­ul­ing by avoid­ing heavy work closer to mid­day is needed.”

COOL­ING DOWN: Work­ers try­ing to beat the heat yes­ter­day in Abu Dhabi

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