7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

'Extend summer work ban' call

CAMPAIGNERS are calling on the Bahrain government to bring forward a midday ban on outdoor work, after doctors yesterday reported that more than 50 people required medical treatment within 24 hours.

Bahrain bans all outdoor work between midday and 4pm during July and August to protect employees from potentially fatal heat-related conditions, such as heat stroke.

However, with temperatures already hitting 40C a group that campaigns for foreign workers' rights is urging authorities to extend the midday ban until the beginning of June.

"The July and August work ban from noon until 4pm is welcome, but the weather is hot from around the end of April," Migrant Workers Protection Society chairwoman Marietta Dias told the GDN yesterday.

"It actually starts getting very uncomfortable in May and it is really hot in June."

Bahrain has been posting record temperatures in recent years, with the hottest June day on record being June 20, 2010 - when the mercury rocketed to 46.9C.

A year earlier, June 2009 went on record as the hottest June since records began in 1902, with an average temperature of 35.2C for the month.

Last year saw the fourth hottest June on record, with an average daily temperature of 34.7C - more than 2C above normal.

The MWPS wants the midday outdoor work ban to start on June 1 and continue until the end of August, particularly in light of seasonal dust that has blanketed the country over the past two days.

"This affects the workers who are at the mercy of their employers," she said.

"It would be appropriate for the government to consider a three-month ban rather than two months.

"The step would actually increase productivity and protect workers' health."

A doctor at Salmaniya Medical Complex confirmed yesterday that more than 50 people, most of them Asian construction workers, were treated at the hospital's Accident and Emergency Department since Monday afternoon.

They said the hazy weather conditions, coupled with hot temperatures, had made life difficult for those working outside - particularly at the hottest time of the day.

"Those at construction sites are most vulnerable and have to take care," said one doctor.

"We have seen several cases where workers have come in with dust-related conditions like coughing and sneezing and we have found them to be severely dehydrated as well."

He added around 30 cases were reported on Monday, while two of those treated yesterday were admitted and kept under observation.

"All but two of those who came were treated and discharged," he said.

"Two men in their 40s were being kept under observation until the evening."

He added that not all of the patients were labourers.

"There have been some cases of women, children and the elderly as well, but all of them have been discharged," he said.


The doctor advised anyone working outside in dusty conditions to wear a protective mask and advised employers to consider changing their timings, even if the work ban was not extended.

"It would be worth considering an early start and a 10am end to work," he said.

Weathermen have warned that conditions could remain dusty and hazy until the weekend and beyond.

"This is normal for June," said an official at the Civil Aviation Affairs Meteorology Directorate.

They added that humidity in July would help the dust settle down.

"Visibility may appear to be poor, but it was 6,000 metres at Bahrain International Airport yesterday, as opposed to 2,000 metres on Monday," they added. "No incoming or outgoing flights have been affected." [email protected]

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