Heat deaths prompt Doha campaign

Forty deaths of Nepalese workers since the beginning of the year leads embassy to publish health alerts

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By  Tim Wood Published  June 24, 2006

The deaths of 40 Nepalese workers on construction sites in Doha since the start of the year has prompted the country’s embassy to launch a media campaign to alert labourers to the dangers of working in the summer sun. Nepal has sent as many as 80,000 construction workers to Qatar. But in the past six months 40 have died from heat exhaustion or heart attacks caused by the high temperatures. Last year, 118 Nepalese workers were reported to have died, 20% from cardio-respiratory arrest, according to figures released by the Nepalese Embassy last week. Most of the victims were young workers found dead in their sleep. Rajender Panday, charge d’affaires, Nepalese Embassy, Doha, confirmed: “We are to publish health alerts in Nepalese language in the local media to inform our nationals of the risks they run when working under the scorching sun. “Construction firms should be the ones to take care of the health of their workers. Our people are not used to these temperatures and are unaware of the risks they run.” Figures from the Hamad Medical Corporation have revealed that between May and September last year 400 workers were admitted with heat exhaustion. And in the past few weeks alone it has treated more than 20 workers. Last week Civil Service Affairs and Housing introduced a new law to stop work at construction sites in Doha between 11.30am and 3pm until 31 August. *Forty-eight labourers from Dubai Contracting Company (DCC) were facing deportation as Construction Week went to press. DCC has submitted requests to Dubai police, as directed by the Ministry of Labour, to cancel their visas after they had demanded a pay rise and overtime payments. The protests started in Sonapur, but spread to camps in Jebel Ali and Al Quoz — up to 3,500 workers were involved.

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