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Outdoor workers relieved over mid-day break

The Ministry of Labour has called on company owners not to violate the provisions of the decision and the necessity of implementing it to preserve the safety and health of workers during the summer period
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Outdoor workers heaved a sigh of relief as the annual mid-day break for the summer months started on June 1.


An initiative aimed at safeguarding the health and safety of workers, especially at construction sites, the three-month-long break will witness outdoor work for employees being suspended from 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm.


The annual break is a lifesaver during the hot summer months. This was evident when Ahmed Sirajuddin, a mason, told the Observer, "This decision ensures that we are able to get some rest during these months of sweltering heat. We are relieved to some extent."


While announcing the decision, the Ministry of Labour called on company owners not to violate the provisions of the decision and the necessity of implementing it to preserve the safety and health of workers during the summer period while warning that legal measures will be taken against violations.


According to the ministry's decision, labourers must not work at all during the banned hours if they usually work outside, but companies working on emergency projects can continue work.


Last week, Shaikh Nasr bin Amer al Hosni, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, urged companies to take necessary measures to avoid the effects of high temperatures in workplaces, especially during the months of June-August.


"The ministry will work to complete efforts to activate the heat stress campaign this year and stop work between 12:30 to 3:30 pm during the months of June, July and August on a daily basis in the open places that can expose workers to the dangers of the hot sun."


The decision by the ministry also requires employers to post clear scheduling of the daily working hours during the midday break period and provide shelter for the labourers during the resting hours.


Roopesh Yadav, an outdoor cleaner, said the break gives him solace as he can take a rest in a nearby air-conditioned building.


"I have been here for a few years now. It gets so hot outdoors during peak summer months that at times I feel dizzy, so break is such a respite. When I resume work after the break, I feel so much more fresh and rejuvenated," he said.


According to the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), Oman's construction sector employs the largest number of expatriate workers. At the end of the first quarter of 2022, there were 373,184 workers.


Working in the sun during the hot summer days can deplete the body's water before one even starts to feel thirsty. Workers are exposed to hot and humid conditions, mainly in the construction sector.


Common summer diseases occur during the daytime, especially during the noon time when the sun's rays are directly perpendicular.


During summer, doctors receive a lot of patients complaining of urinary stones and renal colic because of reduced water intake, exacerbating bronchial asthma.


"Taking a break from the heat, especially at midday, when the sun is at its hottest, helps the workers by giving them some respite from hot and humid working environment," said Dr Shashiraj Eswarappa, Medical Superintendent and Consultant in Internal Medicine at a leading hospital here.


Heat stress can lead to heat stroke, heat exhaustion, fainting, cramps and rashes. High temperatures can also lead to injuries among workers due to sweaty hands, fogged glasses and dizziness.


@samuelkuttyvp


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