Most Dubai firms 'fail workers over heat dangers'

Almost two-thirds of blue collar workers claim their employer does not train them about health risks - survey
Most Dubai firms 'fail workers over heat dangers'
Indian labourers in Dubai
By Courtney Trenwith
Tue 04 Jun 2013 08:33 AM

Almost two-thirds of blue-collar workers in Dubai claim they are not regularly trained by their employers about heat-related health issues despite working outdoors, a new survey has revealed.

The poll, launched at the start of summer when temperatures can reach 50C, showed that about 63 percent of the 700 workers surveyed said they were aware of the health risks during summer, an increase of 24 percent compared to last year.

However, only 36 percent learned from their employers, while 24 percent relied on general knowledge or experience and a further 16 percent were informed by friends, colleagues or the heads of working camps where many low income expat workers live.

UAE-based company Dulsco, which provides human resources services and conducted the survey of 700 workers during an annual summer medical camp backed by the Dubai Health Authority, said the research showed an improvement in workers’ understanding of heat-related health issues.

Workers reported a better understanding about typical summer conditions such as dehydration, food contamination, hygiene, skin diseases and sunstroke and many also were keen to learn exercises, healthy food and ways to keep their bodies cooler during the hotter months, a statement said.

However, about one-third of respondents did not drink enough water to stay hydrated in summer, 80 percent did not take frequent breaks and only 28 percent had healthy food and juices.

“Many companies across the UAE are increasingly investing in the health and welfare of their employees through continuous health awareness drives,” senior manager of Dulsco Medical Services Mubarak Kozhikkal said.

“Summer is especially a challenging month of many people involved with outdoor work and therefore, educating their teams on health risks is extremely important.”

The Ministry of Labour announced last week that outdoor labourers, such as those on construction sites, in the UAE would be given a mandatory two-and-a-half hour break from 12.30pm to 3pm between June 15 and September 15 so they could avoid the worst heat of the day.

The ministerial decision also stated daily working hours could not exceed eight and labourers who usually worked in the open could not be redirected to indoors duties during the break.

Companies who violate the midday summer break face penalties including the downgrading of their classification and a AED15,000 fine for each violation.

Last year, a total of 166 companies failed to comply with the UAE's midday summer work rules.

The average temperature during July last year was 43C, while the hottest day was June 22 at 47C, according to weatherspark.com.

Dulsco’s volunteer doctors will be giving tips for healthy fasting during Ramadan, which this year falls during the peak of summer.

The Indian Pharmaceutical Welfare Council also will provide free medicines worth AED400,000 for outdoor workers.

For all the latest health tips & news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.