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
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