ABU DHABI // The midday break, which requires all outdoor workers across the country to rest for two and a half hours every afternoon, goes into effect today.
But official inspections will not begin until tomorrow, as most labourers do not work on Fridays.
The Ministry of Labour rule prohibits working in the sun between 12.30pm and 3pm, and employers must provide shaded areas, water and rehydration supplies.
"As a culture, we do not accept forcing labourers to work in bad conditions," said Mubarak Al Dhaheri, the under secretary of the ministry. "We need to regulate and require this."
Companies that breach the rule, which is in effect daily until September 15, face a Dh15,000 fine, Dh5,000 more than last year. Repeat offenders will not be allowed to hire new workers or issue new labour cards.
In 2010, more than 3,000 cases of heat-related illnesses were reported at healthcare facilities in Abu Dhabi emirate and most were labourers who worked outside.
"Dehydration actually affects productivity and how much people can do in the workplace," said Darren Joubert, senior officer for occupational health at the Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (Haad).
Heat exhaustion accounted for most of the cases in 2010. If left untreated, it can lead to heatstroke and even death.
Mr Joubert said workers should drink about two litres of water for every two to three hours of work outdoors.
This year, the Ministry of Labour plans to conduct 60,000 inspections and 20,000 awareness visits. Nineteen inspection teams will conduct daily awareness visits from 10.30am until the break begins.