Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 June 2019

Oman labourers fall to their deaths in extreme heat

The country is experiencing its hottest Ramadan in eight years, according to the meteorological office, and fasting labourers working outdoors are particularly vulnerable.
Construction workers in Muscat on June 3, 2017. Photo - Saleh Al Shaibany for The National.
Construction workers in Muscat on June 3, 2017. Photo - Saleh Al Shaibany for The National.

Muscat // Six construction workers have fallen to their deaths in the first week of Ramadan as temperatures in Oman touched 50°C.

The country is experiencing its hottest Ramadan in eight years, according to the meteorological office, and fasting labourers working outdoors are particularly vulnerable to the intense heat.

Four of the workers who died were from Bangladesh and the other two from Pakistan. Most of the deaths were caused by head injuries, hospital records showed.

Last year, hospitals registered nine worker deaths as a result of falls during Ramadan.

With about 15 hours between sunrise and sunset this Ramadan, labourers are becoming disoriented as a result of dehydration, doctors say.

“They lose fluid from their bodies very quickly working out in the open under the heat of the sun. They get weak and dizzy and just fall to the ground. Some are lucky and just get injured. The others, unfortunately, lose their lives,” Dr Sadiqa Tariq, a doctor from Al Hail Health Centre, told The National.

People living near construction sites say they see the labourers working full days.

“They work from seven in the morning to six in the evening with just a one-hour break in between. They don’t get the benefit of reduced working hours in Ramadan. Most of the day they are out in the open while fasting,” said Aous Al Farsi, whose house is next to a construction site in Muscat.

The government reduces the working day by two hours during Ramadan but companies are not required to follow the rule provided they pay overtime for the extra hours worked.

Construction workers in Oman typically get paid about 180 rials (Dh1,718) a month.

Mohammed Jamal, a bricklayer, fell from the scaffolding of a building he was working on during Ramadan last year but survived with just a broken leg. He returned to work after two months.

“We don’t get any relief in Ramadan. It is the same working hours,” Mr Jamal told The National.

“It is hard to work while fasting. You get dizzy and very weak but we need the money to send home to our families for Eid. We have no choice.”

foreign.desk@thenational.ae

Updated: June 3, 2017 04:00 AM

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