‘Safety in the Heat’ Plan Launched
Olivia Olarte 21 May 2009 KHALEEJ TIMES
ABU DHABI — A comprehensive safety regime programme aimed at creating awareness and enhancing health and safety of workers who are exposed to high temperatures and humidity during the summer months was launched in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
The ‘Safety in the Heat’ programme, launched by the Heath Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD) in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour (MoL) for the first time in the UAE, targets those who work in the construction, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing and heavy industry sectors.
“HAAD and MoL are strongly supporting this programme and want to see this rollout and implemented to as many companies in Abu Dhabi as possible. Companies and organisations from other emirates and countries in the region are welcome to participate in the programme,” Dr Jens Thomsen, Section Head, Occupational and Environmental Health at HAAD, told company representatives at the launch.
The programme will support employers through offering a comprehensive package of educational and awareness materials in English, Arabic, Hindi, Urdu and Malayalam. It focuses on the prevention of heat-related illnesses such as rash, cramps, exhaustion and heat stroke caused by exposure to the hot environment.
The ‘Safety in the Heat’ recommendations are validated by HAAD and are applicable to workers in Abu Dhabi and the GCC region.
The programme has been developed following a two-year scientific research by the UAE University and Curtin University of Technology in Australia, sponsored by HAAD and participated by select companies in Abu Dhabi
A few hundred workers were engaged in these studies which include monitoring the workers’ heart rate for three continuous days, measuring their hydration status, recording of workers’ core temperature throughout the work shift and documenting environmental conditions.
“We found that the hydration status of the workers when they come to work is generally poor, and they tend to stay that way during the day... there is a lack of general awareness among employers and workers on how to prevent heat illness,” said Dr Graham Bates, Medical Physiologist from Curtin University of Technology.
The heat management programme also introduces a new heat stress index called Thermal Work Limit (TWL), which was developed by Dr Bates. TWL monitors all environmental factors such as the dry bulb, radiant heat, wind speed and humidity to assess working conditions and determine the thermal risk to the employee.
In addition to the protection of workers, the programme is also aimed at improving productivity of companies and reduce the time loss due to injuries by workers, said Dr Bates.