Six hours a day work for construction workers Apr 03, 2020 0 3755 12345 QNADohaThe Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs (MADLSA) has directed employers in the private sector to restrict the working hours for construction workers to six hours a day until further notice.The ministry on Thursday issued a set of directives that companies operating in the private sector must follow in the work and places of accommodation to protect workers, as part of preventive and precautionary measures to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).As per the directives, the employers must raise the workers’ awareness of the procedures and the exchange of information. These measures also include emphasis on reducing gatherings in the work places and residences and applying preventive and occupational safety measures to protect workers from the virus.The ministry stressed that employers should exchange information and increase workers’ awareness of the procedures adopted at the company and government levels regarding tackling the COVID-19.They must emphasise on the importance to taking temperature regularly and monitoring respiratory symptoms; the importance of observing good personal hygiene by reminding them to wash their hands regularly, cover their mouth with elbow if coughing or sneezing and to avoid touching their faces; and the need for worker representatives/welfare officers who can communicate in workers’ languages to encourage them to share information and perspectives, ask questions, and verify information.The directives issued to companies also included increasing frequency of routine cleaning and sanitation of areas with high human contact in worksites, accommodation, bus, bathrooms, kitchens, canteens and other places used by workers. It also directed companies to provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces, such as doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls and desks can be wiped down by employees before each use.The ministry directed employers to limit social gathering to the minimum essential, reduce working hours to 6 hours for construction workers until further notice, stagger entry and exit of workers from the workplace, work as much as possible to reduce the population density in the workplace and accommodation provided that the number of workers does not exceed four in one room; prohibit all in-person meetings that are not essential and limi internal movement as much as feasible; suspend all training events; restrict the use of common spaces such as canteen and changing rooms, to a limited number of workers at the same time, in line with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) guidelines.The ministry also underlined the importance of enhancing the role of the Occupational Safety and Health Officers and management to supervise workers and ensure that protective measures are applied, in particular performing a risk assessment to protect workers and mitigate the spread of COVID-19; working with public health authorities to develop a plan to identify suspected cases and contacts with COVID-19 in workplaces and manage them properly; considering impact on mental health (for example, anxiety about job and income security, about the risk of contracting COVID-19, and the situation of their family members in their home countries).The ministry further stressed the importance of providing psychological and social support to infected employees after recovery, checking workers’ temperature before taking buses to move to the workplace and to return the accommodation and isolating any worker with high temperature and reporting to the MoPH hotline on the number 16000.The ministry also called on employers to take advantage of the clinics available in companies to carry out examination procedures and follow up the health status of workers and providing additional precautionary measures to workers most vulnerable to infection, such as those with chronic diseases (diabetes, heart and respiratory diseases).The ministry’s directives have also emphasised limiting the number of workers and users of buses to a maximum of 50 percent of the number of chairs on the bus; ensuring the use of masks and availability of hand sanitisers in the workplace; ensuring that there are no gatherings inside the workplace and that the safe distance between the workers is kept at all time while performing the work and giving attention to other Safety and Health risks in the workplace.The ministry said the Labor Inspection Department will monitor employers’ compliance with strict inspection campaigns, adding that failure to comply will result in penalties.In case of failure to report suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection, the employer will be subjected to the penalties stipulated in Law No 9 of 2020 amending some provisions of Decree Law No 17 of 1990 regarding the prevention of infectious diseases, the ministry added. 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