The Public Works Authority (Ashghal) in coordination with the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs (MADLSA) has launched intense inspection campaigns at workplaces and labor accommodations to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The campaigns are to confirm the compliance of contracting companies in implementing the precautionary and preventive measures released by Ashghal based on the directives of MADLSA.
Eng. Abdulla Qassim, an official of the Khalifa Avenue project of the Highway Projects Department of Ashghal, confirmed that the Authority conducts regular inspection tours at the workplace and closely inspects if all the instructions given to the project-executing companies to maintain safety of workers at work sites and to reduce the risk of infection from the coronavirus are being followed.
He added that the Khalifa Avenue project is one of the vital projects that achieved 79 million working hours without work time injuries, among 7000 workers who are involved in the project construction due to the commitment of the implementing company to the health and safety measures imposed by Ashghal.
He continued by saying that with the spread of the coronavirus around the world, Ashghal has assured that the project implementing companies are aware of the seriousness of the issue and they are aware of all preventive measures and procedures to minimize the spread of the virus, without affecting the workflow. These measures include regular and comprehensive washing of hands, making sterilization dispensers available to all by placing it in noticeable places around work areas, besides preventing gatherings and maintaining social distance.
Eng. Abdullah Qasim confirmed that all precautions were taken for the project workers in the housing, and daily checks were made to ensure the health and safety of workers, as there is a clinic licensed by the Ministry of Public Health in the accommodation in addition to a clinic on the work site. Emergency isolation rooms are also provided in the event of a suspicion of any infection case case and immediate communication with the authorities in the Ministry of Public Health to take the necessary action is also assured.
Labors' accommodation is located on a land area of 142,724 square meters, which allows lesser number of persons in each room and kitchen services are being provided that follow ISO 22000 standards and serve food in six dining halls designated for each groups while ensuring social distancing during meals, added Eng. Abdullah Qasim.
Nasser Al Hajri
For his part, Nasser Al Hajri from the Inspection Department of the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs, stressed that the Inspection Department of the Ministry is always conducting visits in coordination with the Public Works Authority to see the extent of the representative companies' implementation of labors' welfare measures in work and accommodation sites, noting that it is ensured that all contractors complied with the directives of the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs with labor and occupational safety measures, thanks to the close supervision of Ashghal, to keep workers safe from infection.
The Public Works Authority has implemented a number of precautionary measures based on the directives issued by the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs. These procedures included setting the working hours of construction workers to 6 hours per day until further notice and raising awareness of the procedures and exchanging information in the languages of workers as well as reducing gatherings in the workplace and accommodation.
Ashghal has also verified the implementation of a risk assessment procedure to protect workers and reduce the spread of the coronavirus, and worked with the competent health authority to develop a plan to properly identify and manage suspected cases related to the virus in the workplace, as well as taking into account the impact on labors' mental health such as anxiety concerning job security and income, or concern about the risk of infection with the coronavirus, with the provision of emergency isolation rooms.
The preventive and occupational safety measures implemented by Ashghal include regular check of the body temperature of the labors', monitoring and reporting abnormal symptoms-if any- related to the respiratory system, as well as stressing the importance of good personal hygiene by reminding labors to wash their hands regularly, covering the mouth with the arm in case of coughing or sneezing and avoiding touching their faces.