LIN’s David Wegman is featured in the recent Amnesty International Report, “In the Prime of Their Lives”: Qatar’s Failure to Investigate, Remedy and Prevent Migrant Workers’ Deaths.”
The report highlights how Qatar’s weak heat-stress laws (and the weak implementation of those laws) are currently harming thousands of construction and outdoor workers in the region. In evaluating the data regarding the risk of heat stress to outdoor workers, Wegman states:
“These data clearly demonstrate the inadequacy of the laws in place to protect migrant workers in sectors such as construction. The summer working hours ban, which is a blanket ban on all work at certain hours of the day during the hottest months of the year, has offered no protection to workers for significant amounts of time when risks from heat still require rigorously adhered to rest schedules and appropriate pacing of the work tempo to prevent heat-related illness or death.”
Moreover, Wegman suggests that new regulations launched in May 2021, which are voluntary on behalf of the worker, are equally ineffective. Workers often underestimate their exposure to heat or may even be encouraged not to speak up and advocate for their rights for fear of losing their job. Because of this, Wegman argues that safe work must be objectively determined. Rather than a blanket ban on work that has shown to be woefully inadequate, what is needed is an approach that includes appropriate work/rest scheduling, informed by the data and adequately assessed.
Read the report: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde22/4614/2021/en/
La Isla Network continues to advocate for scientifically informed heat-stress regulations to ensure that workers are adequately protected from the health risks of heat. Qatar’s heat stress approach makes it evident that having a program is not the same as having an adequately designed, assessed, and implemented one.
Whether you are a company, government agency, or organization looking to protect workers’ health in a warming world, La Isla Network stands ready to assist you.
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Professor David Wegman is an Emeritus Professor of Work Environment at UMass Lowell, Adjunct Professor at Harvard School of Public Health, and a member of La Isla Network.