The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee (Q22) yesterday announced a worker’s charter for health and safety during the construction period for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The announcement was made at a conference organised by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) , a global body.

IOSH had launched its Qatar chapter last October.

“The safety, security, health and dignity of all workers are of paramount importance to the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee,” IOSH quoted Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee technical director Yasir al-Jamal as saying.

“We look forward to a long-term partnership with IOSH to ensure a lasting legacy of worker welfare standards in Qatar,”  al-Jamal said.

“The Qatar 2022 Worker’s Charter is a document that reflects this commitment and is a pledge to ensure a lasting positive legacy on the well-being of workers in Qatar by Q22 and all major programme and government stakeholders in the state,” he added.

The announcement of the Q22 worker’s charter follows a statement issued by the Qatar Foundation  that contractors working on its projects would have to treat their workers ethically based on standards being developed by the organisation. QF said it wanted to become a role model for ethical treatment of migrant workers.

Speaking at yesterday’s conference, Jonathan Pickering, IOSH Middle East branch chair, said: “(The) conference reflects our vision for a sustainable safe and healthy work place, especially at this outstanding transformational period Qatar is witnessing, and we at IOSH are passionate about improving protection for workers across the region, so that fewer people experience work-related injuries and ill-health.

“It’s our honour to have the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee present here today to showcase  this country’s ability to host events on the world’s stage while applying the world’s finest welfare practices.”

IOSH’s Qatar branch offers support, guidance and training events for health and safety professionals and others in the region responsible for workers’ welfare.

The Qatar 2022  Supreme Committee is doing its best to address the workers’ welfare, IOSH president Gerard Hand said.

Banking on the credibility of Q22, IOSH is helping to achieve some common objectives and goals especially in ensuring the well-being of all workers in the country. These included their accommodation, food, health and a safe working environment.

However, Hand admitted that Qatar faced many challenges in meeting the expectations of the prestigious FIFA World Cup 2022.

“The biggest challenge is like currently, if we look historically at what had happened, there had been a number of issues, a number of problems and the eyes of the world are looking at what Qatar is doing,” he said.

Abu Dhabi Health Authority senior adviser Darren Joubert echoed Hand’s statements. He expressed confidence that Qatar would address the present challenges facing  the workers.

He noted that strict government regulations and requirements would also compel employers to comply with policies beneficial to workers – accommodation, safe working environment, etc.

“I think it’s obviously a health issue or like any other issues so it is something that should be looked at,” Joubert added.

As an example, he cited the case of Abu Dhabi which has strict regulations, especially in dealing with the hot weather. The government adopts a comprehensive system called the Abu Dhabi Environmental Health Safety Management System which has been applied for the last five summers.

Citing various studies and journals, he said a significant decrease in the number of heat-related illnesses had been recorded under the system.

He also emphasised the important role of embassies in the region in protecting the expatriate workers. Of Qatar’s population of 1.9mn, more than 1.6mn are foreigners and about half of them are low-income workers.