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Mon 4 Aug 2008 04:00 AM

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The heat is on

There can be few of us that have not complained about the extreme heat in the past few weeks. As temperatures soared to over 47°C mid-July, it wasn't just the plants that began to wilt.

There can be few of us that have not complained about the extreme heat in the past few weeks. As temperatures soared to over 47°C mid-July, it wasn't just the plants that began to wilt.Spare a thought then for the outdoor design and construction industry, which has a harder time of it than most during the summer.

While many firms slacken the pace in the hotter months, for contractors, whose work is mainly outdoors, it's business as usual. Whatever the temperature, deadlines still have to be met and in a competitive market, it's a lone contractor that can afford to risk upsetting a client by delivering late.

The UAE's Ministry of Labour is to be commended for the steps it has taken to protect outdoor workers, by implementing for the fourth year in a row a ban on outdoor construction work between 12.30pm and 3pm during the hottest months, and issuing a warning that any company violating the mid-day ban would be fined.

Contractors are also to be praised for their efforts to look after workers over and above the regulations.

Recent history has shown that legislation does help in reducing the number of heat related illnesses in workers. More than 1,200 companies broke the mid-day ban in 2005. By 2007, this number had dropped to 617.

The hot summer is a fact of life in the Middle East, as part and parcel of the deal as the year-round sunshine and heavy traffic. The climate isn't going to suddenly change. Instead, it is up to those affected by the heat and those who control how others are affected to plan accordingly and adjust in response.

The fast paced development in the Gulf is an incredible thing, but it should not be achieved at the cost of human health.

Michele Howe is the editor of Commercial Outdoor Design.

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