Even though summer has just kicked in, the mid-day break period for outdoor workers especially those in construction sector has not started but their woes have. Many of whom are expatriates, they feel that the break could have been set earlier.
According to National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), Oman’s construction sector employs the largest number of expatriate workers.
The three-month mid-day break which normally begins on June 1 with outdoor employees suspending work between 12.30 pm and 3.30 pm, calls on companies to comply with such humanitarian rule but there are a few who do not follow it and often face heavy fines from authorities.
Tamjeed Mohammad, a worker for a construction site, said, “I wish the authorities added another 20 days or a month before June 1. It is already hot and we get exhausted in no time. The temperature comes down only after 5 pm and each year, summer begins earlier by around two weeks.”
Another construction worker, Faizul Haq, said, “We wish the break starts earlier than June and extended till September 30. At the moment, the mid-day break calls for a strict regulation and prohibition of work for workers in the heat from 12.30 pm to 3.30 pm from June to August.”
Under Article 16 of Ministerial Decision No 286/2008, outdoor workers in Oman are banned from working in high temperatures during the summer months.
Some concerned citizens say there is a need for humanitarian considerations for such workers. “While driving from work every afternoon, I am often overwhelmed seeing these workers at many construction sites on the way having no choice but to bear the heat. The scorching sun makes it more difficult, but they have no choice. There is a need for the authorities to do something about it,” Amour al Tauqi, a concerned citizen from Al Amerat, said.
According to health experts, high temperatures can cause fatigue and exhaustion, which result in reduced concentration, vigilance and alertness and consequently cause many other health risks.