Doha • The National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) has called for strict implementation of the provisions in the new Labour Law regarding safety of the workers, amidst fears that the large number of construction workers in the country risk the danger of being affected by the soaring temperature. A senior NHRC official told The Peninsula yesterday that rights panel had already taken up the issue with the Ministry of Civil Service Affairs and Housing and has been pressing for stricter implementation of the Labour Law.
" The new law contains specific provisions to ensure the safety of workers in the worksite. For instance, at least one nurse should be made available at the site o provide first aid to the workers, in case of any emergency," said Mohammed Fouad, legal consultant at NHRC. "We want to see such provisions being implemented in reality and we are asking the Labour Department to intervene," he added. He noted that as most of the companies are struggling to finish their contract works ahead of the forthcoming Asian Games, there is a high possibility that safety of the workers would be ignored. Though there is an instruction to adjust the working hours during summer to reduce the risk of heat exhaustion, many companies say that they are not in position to strictly abide by it due to their work commitments. Workers involved in the road and building projects especially face the risk of being exposed to the extreme temperature, he said. "There is a conflict between economic interests of the country and the health and safety the thousands of expatriate workers employed in the construction sector," Mohammed Fouad said. He noted that the recent incidents of fire in some major construction sites in Doha have brought this issue into focus. He said, NHRC representatives have been conducting visits to construction sites as well as labour camps to see the condition of the workers. "We have made three visits recently and more are in planned during this summer," he said. If any violation of the safety norms are found, the committee will report it to the labour inspection department. " We can only bring such cases to the notice of the departments concerned, since NHRC does not have the judicial power to take punitive actions," he explained. He said the labour inspection department is "doing a good job" but has been facing severe shortage of staff. " They need to employ more inspectors to supervise all the worksites across the country," he said. Commenting on the death of six Syrian workers in a fire in a high-rise building in Doha last month, Mohammed Fouad said, NHRC has been following up on the case to ensure that the their compensations have been paid.