Heat-related hospital cases down during midday ban

Number of workers in UAE with heat-related illnesses dropped 80% this summer.

Hospitals in Dubai have seen a reduction in the number of workers admitted due to the heat. (Moustafa Zakaria/ITP Images)
Hospitals in Dubai have seen a reduction in the number of workers admitted due to the heat. (Moustafa Zakaria/ITP Images)

The number of construction workers in the UAE suffering from heat-related illnesses dropped by almost 80% this summer, according to medical experts.

Hospitals have reported a decline in the number of cases of heat stroke and heat exhaustion, which medical staff say is down to contractors being forced to comply with the midday working ban, which ended on 31 August.

The Ministry of Labour warned that any companies found violating the ban would face fines of up to US $8,170 (AED30,000) per worker.

Nurse Hasan Sabbagh, emergency clinic, Iranian Hospital, said: "Last year we saw so many cases. This year we have seen fewer cases. Before, we were seeing five, six or even seven cases per day, but right now it's become maybe two or three a day.

"The government has brought in the working ban and I think this change in hours is most important. The companies are also taking more care over their workers. Maybe they have made things safer for them," he added.

Dr Moin Fikree, clinical director, emergency and trauma centre, Rashid Hospital, estimated that there had been up to an 80% drop in cases compared to previous years.

"We have seen a major decline in the number of heat-related cases coming in. I think the numbers have dropped at least 70-80% since two years ago," he said.

But he admitted it would be difficult to gauge exactly how many construction workers had been admitted to the trauma unit this year as Rashid Hospital stopped keeping records due to the dwindling number of patients.

"This year the number of cases has dropped so significantly that it has not been feasible for us to keep a record of this as we have done in previous years. I think there were about 300 cases that we saw last year, but this year we haven't felt it to be a significant enough issue for us to keep on gathering this data," he said.

But Dr Prem Jagyasi, Jebel Ali Hospital, warned that heat-related illnesses are not only caused by exposure to direct sunlight but also other climatic factors, which can affect those working outside at any time of day.

"Most of the heat cases that the government has discovered are not directly related to the sun, they are caused by high temperatures and the humidity."

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