NHRC Launches Awareness Campaign on Impact of Heat Stress in Work Environment
The National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) announced the launch of an awareness campaign to raise awareness of the impact of heat stress in the work environment on workers' rights to life and physical, mental, and psychological health.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of concerted efforts by all stakeholders, foremost of which is the commitment of employers and workers to implement the legal decisions and legislation approved by the state regarding the prevention and prohibition of work in high-temperature places, which protect them from heat stress, especially workers in the construction, industry, and delivery services sectors, which would enhance the national progress made in the field of protecting the rights of expatriate workers, and address any gaps that may prevent the provision of actual and complete protection for them.
In this context, HE Chairperson of the NHRC Maryam bint Abdullah Al Attiyah said that over the past few years, the State of Qatar has been able to accumulate its human rights achievements aimed at ensuring human dignity and enjoyment of the right to a decent life based on the foundations of freedom, justice, equality, and tolerance; based on its Arab and Islamic values, its social and human traditions, its belief in the rule of law, and its role in protecting human rights in its comprehensive and integrated sense, which constitutes the basic foundation for national legislation, policies, and practices capable of enabling people to improve their lives for the better, as well as achieving sustainable development that is acceptable to noble human values.
Al Attiyah added that there is no doubt that respecting, protecting, and fulfilling the human rights of workers is among one of the national human rights priorities monitored by the NHRC, which has occupied the attention of the state in its various institutions, leading to the development of the national legal framework concerned with protecting their rights and regular and continuous institutional work to address the gaps that may prevent them from enjoying their rights or lead to the creation of a work environment that may create conditions that may affect these rights, mainly since expatriate workers belong to around 195 countries, whose climatic conditions differ from Qatars. Al Attiyah added that those expatriate workers share the Qatari citizens in the rights and freedoms stipulated in the permanent constitution of the State of Qatar, as well as in international and regional human rights conventions based on the principle of equality and non-discrimination.
She indicated that the State of Qatar belongs to a geographical area whose climate is characterized by high temperature and humidity during summer. She said that given the fact that there is a large percentage of expatriate workers who work in professional sectors exposed to direct sunlight or in workplaces with high temperature even if they are shaded, such as the construction, gardening and industries sectors, in addition to that segment of workers in delivery services, which has recently appeared massively due to the technical development in means of communication and after the COVID-19 pandemic, the urgent need - especially in Summer season - requires the continuation of national efforts in the field of protecting expatriate workers from heat stress related to work to protect the rights of workers stipulated in the national legal framework regulating the right to work and its conditions, and in particular the right to provide a healthy and safe work environment, in application of the provisions of the permanent constitution of the State of Qatar and in implementation of international standards, which are stipulated in human rights conventions and conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO) to which the state has become a party.
The Chairperson of the NHRC pointed out that the general and main objective of the campaign is to raise awareness for both employers and workers about the importance of enforcing the ministerial decree No. 17 of 2021 regarding the necessary precautions to protect workers from the dangers of heat stress during the summer period, which stipulates a ban on working during peak heat times, to prevent heat stress that results in causes that may lead to gross violations of human rights, foremost of which is the right to life and the right to physical, mental, and psychological health. This awareness campaign results in the effective application of the relevant law provisions and prevents the excuse of ignorance or violation of them, or lack of knowledge of the risks resulting from heat stress on the lives and health of workers, and then enables the workers themselves and employers to address any acts that violate the law and prevent their occurrence in advance.
Regarding the sub-goals of the campaign, Al Attiyah said that the most prominent of which is securing the enforcement of legal provisions related to working conditions and protecting workers from heat stress, especially in the construction, factory, and delivery sectors, as well as any sector in which workers work directly in the open space under the influence of sunlight and high heat in the summer. In addition, the campaign aims to enhance employers' and workers' compliance with legal standards stipulated in national legislation on heat stress prevention, provide information to stakeholders, including workers and employers, regarding the most effective means to comply with legal provisions related to heat stress prevention, learn about deficiencies and abuse that is not covered by the legal provisions in force, establish respect for workers' rights that are recognized nationally and internationally in the State of Qatar, improve working conditions and the provision of a safe, healthy and sustainable environment that guarantees workers' enjoyment of all components of occupational health and safety. Moreover, the awareness campaign also aims to highlight the repercussions of heat stress in the workplace on workers' productivity and efficiency, emphasize that a safe, healthy, and sustainable work environment is what enhances productivity and development, highlight the role of heat stress in undermining workers' right to life and their right to physical, mental, and psychological health, as well as the impact of heat stress on all workers, regardless of nationality, age or gender, in addition to strengthening the partnership based on the process of protecting the rights of expatriate workers and providing a safe, healthy and sustainable work environment, in implementation of the state's national and international obligations in the field of human rights, and the development of best practices in partnership with stakeholders.
She indicated that the campaigns carried out by the NHRC over the past years have contributed to the realization of workers' rights, and thus the involvement of workers and employers in efforts to prevent heat stress, all of which are steps that will enhance national efforts to reduce the risk of heat stress to workers and to design creative solutions to confront it from the stakeholders themselves, as they are the most capable of implementing prevention measures and taking the required and appropriate measures in the workplace.