Several companies in Qatar continue to put their workers at risk despite the country’s strict rules and regulations.
Per new legislation, staff are prohibited to work outside between 10am and 3:30pm starting from June 1 and up until September 15 every year.
The companies were caught during an intensive inspection campaign organised by the ministry to ensure companies adhere to necessary precautions set in place to protect workers from heat stress at open work sites during the summer period.
During the month of July, inspectors have circulated around several worksites, forcing violators to close the sites for a period of three days. Authorities also revealed that the violating companies mainly work in the contracting sector (building maintenance).
“The inspections carried out by the Ministry’s inspectors at work sites from July 1 to 31 July resulted in a violation of (106) companies, most of which work in the contracting sector in various regions of the country,” the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs [ADLSA] said in a statement.
The ministry called on all companies in various sectors to adhere to set hours during the summer season for work performed under the sun or in open outdoor workplaces.
Any violations can be reported through the ministry’s hotline number, 16008, or by accessing the unified complaint platform.
In July, authorities had closed around 232 worksites for not adhering to the necessary precautions. One month earlier, over 98 companies were also penalised for violating the permissible working hours.
This means that in the past three months, almost 500 workers were forced to carry out construction labour during temperatures that average around 41.2°C (106.2°F), or even more.
Such risk can lead to serious medical conditions, or even fatalities in some cases.
Updated summer hours
Qatar’s newly introduced legislation replaces an earlier one issued in 2007 that set the prohibited outdoor summertime working hours from 11:30am to 3:00pm between June 15 until August 31.
Apart from the set timings, the law also states that all work must stop if the wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT) rises beyond 32.1 °C in a particular workplace, regardless of the time. The index takes into consideration the ambient temperature, humidity, solar radiation, and wind speed.
This means that workers must not be allowed to work during extremely hot weather, even if it falls outside the set prohibited summertime hours.
Workers must also be provided with personal protective equipment suitable for hot weather, including light, loose-fitting clothing, and receive annual free medical examinations to diagnose and manage chronic diseases that may contribute to the risk of heat stress.
In recent years, the government has been heavily engaged in implementing new laws and regulations to ensure workers’ safety ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
As part of the major labour reform agenda, Qatar has drastically enhanced monitoring across the board to detect violations, enacting swifter penalties and further strengthening the capacity of labour inspectors.
These labour reforms include the introduction of a non-discriminatory minimum wage and the dismantling of the controversial “kafala” or sponsorship system.