Muscat: The Ministry of Manpower has fined 711 companies for violating the mid-day break rule for workers, it is learnt.
“We have found some violations of mid-day break rule and fined 711 companies of various grades while more than 1,096 companies engaged in the construction and maintenance are found to be abiding by the rule”, a source in the ministry told the Observer.
Article 16 of the Oman Labour Law which deals with regulations for occupational safety and health, mandates that the companies engaged in works outdoors not to employ their workers in the sites or high-temperature locations during afternoon hours from 12.30pm to 3.30pm during June, July and August when the Mercury soars high.
Additionally, the employers should also provide their workers with shaded areas during the rest time. “The mid-day break for those who work outdoors during the three months is a part of the HSE policy of the country and is a highly laudable move”, said Shahswar al Balushi.
The regulation, issued under the ministerial decision No 286/2008 further states that these employees should not be asked to work more than eight hours during the day.
Also, in some exceptional cases where the employees are needed to work towards a set target, they should be provided with cold water and other facilities recommended by the country’s health authorities.
“These measures are in compliance with the international standards of workers’ safety and security which will result in increased productivity”, the Ministry representative added, saying the Ministry has intensified the inspection campaigns at work sites.
Some emergency works which are excluded from the break include works such as water supply, sewerage, electricity and cutting off traffic or blocking public roads, in addition to cut gas pipelines or petroleum flow where the employers are asked to provide first aid, air-conditioners, sunshades and cold water.
Mid-day break rule violators will be penalised with fines ranging from RO 100 to RO 500 depending upon the gravity of the violation, or a jail term not more than one month, or both and penalty doubles for repeat violators.
“These steps are to avoid any health hazards associated with rising temperatures and to ensure the protection of labourers”, he added.