By Tom Arnold
As summer work hours begins in the UAE, company reveals success in cutting staff incidents.
Five cases of heat stress were recorded in the last two months among workers of Emirates Aluminium (EMAL), which is running a health campaign to prevent such incidents among its staff, the firm has said.
Heat stress incidents among staff had declined by over 70 percent to an average of one per month compared to last year, despite the recruitment of thousands of extra staff, said EMAL.
In response to soaring summer temperatures, the company launched a heat stress prevention drive involving an employee education programme and the supply of high-energy drinks and fresh fruit to its 18,000 workers at the world’s largest single-site aluminium smelter complex nearing completion at Al Taweelah.
From Wednesday, labourers in the UAE will be banned from working on construction sites in the UAE between 12.30 and 3pm until August 31 following a resolution issued by Labour Minister Saqr Gobash to cut working summer working hours.
An average of 3.5 staff per month were diagnosed with the condition in 2008, compared with an average of only one staff member per month so far this year.
The decline in cases was despite the average number of workers per month growing from 3,410 last year to 12,930 workers per month in the current year to date, it said.
“We are committed to preserving our safety record, and our productivity, as the mercury rises and we work towards start of operations in April,” said CEO Duncan Hedditch in a release.
Involving more than 40 staff training sessions, the employee education and contractor compliance programme aims to reduce the risk of heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
In addition to the provision of electrolyte drinks and fruit to workers to replace body salts and minerals lost through perspiration, EMAL said it was also enforcing guidelines to ensure the provision of properly shaded areas for staff to lie down.
EMAL had also issued safety bulletins to contractors outlining mandatory requirements to provide workers with rehydration fluids and supplements before they board transport to the site.
As well as visual reminders in bus windows on the importance of rehydration, workers and contractors had also participated in health and hygiene audits.
A joint venture between Dubai Aluminium Company Limited (DUBAL) and Mubadala Development Company (Mubadala), EMAL was established in February 2007 to construct what will become the world’s largest single site aluminium smelter complex halfway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
At the end of phase one in 2010, EMAL will produce 700,000 tonnes of aluminium per annum and 1.4 million tonnes annually at the end of phase two.