With the ban on working outdoors in the summer months coming into effect from today onwards in at least two neighbouring GCC states, those exposed to heat while working at sites in Qatar hope that the local labour authorities would implement similar orders sooner.
Reports from the neighbouring Gulf states found the regulations to restricting outdoor work in sweltering conditions during the summer will come into effect in Oman and Kuwait from today onwards, while the two GCC states have restricted work for three- and a half-hours between 12 noon and 3.30pm, work supervisors at some of the local sites said workers as well as employers stood to benefit if the work was stopped as early as 10.30am, with an early start, either from 5 or 5.30 am.
“Workers exposed to heat conditions are finding it difficult to work even in the mornings. Heat conditions set in as early as 9am or sometimes even earlier and the mercury keeps on rising for the next 5 or 6 hours. As a result work is affected at most worksites across the country and the output of workers keeps falling,” said one of the engineers in charge of a major urban development in downtown Doha.
He said the projects under construction would be benefited if major works are rescheduled for evenings.
A work supervisor at a city project in the West Bay felt workers could be given the choice to decide on their timings as they are the ones who are directly affected by heat conditions.
The supervisor said his experience in an earlier project found their company could effectively meet the deadlines as work was mostly in the evenings. “We not only ensured that workers’ output during the summer two seasons ago remained steady but also completed the project ahead of the schedule. It was possible only because of working in the evenings,” he recalled.
Labourers groups, especially those involved in road projects feel they could save considerable energies if their work started early in the mornings even as early as 4am and end by 11am. Many of them felt waiting until 12 noon for a three-hour break would not do them any good as they are exhausted once heat conditions set in.
Company officials cite logistical issues as the main obstacle for rescheduling work during the summer.
An official said their worksite is at least 35km away from the accommodation and bringing them back from sites for the break is time-consuming. However, he was not averse to rescheduling work to the evenings, at least until the end of August.
“There have been many successful examples of work carried out only in the evenings during the summer, including in Qatar,” said an engineer.
As of now, work or no work, most workers need to be near their construction sites even during the break period. While some of them take shelter in their buses parked in the vicinity of their sites as is mostly seen during the summers, others stay at locations which they feel give them some protection from the heat.
The inflow of labourers to the country continues unabated on account of the enormity at which new projects are announced and there is enough reason for one to believe that there would be more arrivals during the summer months as well, when a considerable number of residents travel outside the region.
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