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Mon 22 Oct 2007 09:11 AM

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Heat exhaustion cases at new low

The number of construction workers in the UAE suffering from heat-related illnesses dropped by almost 80% this summer, emergency room clinicians has said.

The number of construction workers in the UAE suffering from heat-related illnesses dropped by almost 80% this summer, emergency room clinicians has said.

Hospitals have reported a decline in the number of cases of heat stroke and heat exhaustion, thought to be a result of firmer enforcement of the midday working ban.

The Ministry of Labour warned that any companies found violating the working ban would face government fines of up to US $8,170 (AED30,000) per worker.

Nurse Hasan Sabbagh, emergency clinic, Iranian Hospital, said: "Last year we saw so many cases. This year we've seen fewer cases. Before, we were seeing five, six or even seven cases per day, but right now it's become maybe two or three a day.

"The government has brought in the working ban and I think this change in hours is most important. The companies are also taking more care over their workers. Maybe they have made things safer for them," he added.

Dr Moin Fikree, clinical director, emergency and trauma centre, Rashid Hospital, estimated that there had been up to an 80% drop in cases compared to previous years.

"We have seen a major decline in the number of heat-related cases coming in. I think the numbers have dropped 70-80% since two years ago," he said.

But Fikree admitted it would be difficult to gauge exactly how many construction workers had been admitted to the trauma unit this year as Rashid Hospital have failed to maintain a registry due to the dwindling number of patients.

"This year the number of cases has dropped so significantly that it has not been feasible for us to keep a record of this as we have done in previous years," he said.

"I think there were about 300 cases that we saw last year, but this year we haven't felt it to be a significant enough issue for us to keep gathering this data."

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