x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Abu Dhabi campaign keeps 3 million labourers safe in the heat

The Health Authority Abu Dhabi's (Haad) heat awareness campaign has been helping labourers cope with the blistering summer heat for the last five years.

Workers take shelter from the scorching heat during their midday break in Abu Dhabi. Delores Johnson / The National
Workers take shelter from the scorching heat during their midday break in Abu Dhabi. Delores Johnson / The National

ABU DHABI // A campaign to save lives by educating outdoor labourers about the dangers of working in the summer sun has reached more than 3 million people, the health authority says.

Since its introduction five years ago, Health Authority-Abu Dhabi's Safety in the Heat programme has reached 1,859 companies and 21,733 worksites, advising workers how to take precautions in blistering temperatures.

"The reality is we have stopped people dying through this campaign," said Darren Joubert, a senior occupational health adviser at Haad. There was not one recorded worker fatality caused by the heat last year, he added.

Mr Joubert said some companies that adopted Haad's practices had a big drop in heat-related illnesses.

The campaign has been run in sectors including construction, manufacturing and agriculture.

Property developer Aldar has recorded an 80 per cent decrease in heat-related cases among its workers, while Arabian Construction recorded a 50 per cent decrease in workers being admitted to hospital with heat-related illnesses.

Mr Joubert said a new online system rolled out across all hospitals in Abu Dhabi this summer will give Haad information that has been lacking on heat-related illnesses.

The Injury and Poisoning Notification System will inform Haad when a worker is admitted to a hospital with heatstroke, and for which company they worked.

"This is not to penalise but to proactively work with these companies and guide them on how to provide better working conditions," said Mr Joubert.

A new campaign starts today with promotional material to be sent to companies across the capital.

Haad will also introduce the Thermal Work Limit to determine whether it is safe for labourers to continue working.

In June, July and August, employers must give workers a break between 12.30pm and 3pm.

jbell@thenational.ae