Abu Dhabi safety programme aims to prevent heat stress

By Iman Sherif  gulfnews.com

Construction workers, whether labourers or site managers, are all equally vulnerable in the torturous sun, heat and humidity, said a senior official.

Abu Dhabi safety programme aims to prevent heat stressOutdoor workers in the UAE, like other Middle Eastern countries, are exposed to major heat stress during the summer when the temperature rises to more than 45 degrees Celsius and humidity exceeds 90 per cent.

To reduce and prevent cases of heat-related illness, the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD) launched the “Safety in the Heat Programme” that provides educational material to assist employers, managers and supervisors in implementing control measures in workplaces where workers are exposed to excessive heat in summer.

According to official statistics, Abu Dhabi emirate witnessed 3,017 cases of heat-related illness in 2010. Heat-related injuries are as dangerous and deadly as any other injury, said doctors. They are, however, preventable with precautions.

“Training and awareness are key components in preventing such a danger. From 500 cases on Saadiyat Island the number dropped down to nine with awareness and prevention,” said a HAAD official.

Heat stroke is a form of hyperthermia (an abnormally elevated body temperature with accompanying physical and neurological symptoms). It is a true medical emergency that can be fatal if not properly and promptly treated.

The body dissipates heat by evaporation of sweat, a self-mechanism to cool down. However, in extreme heat, high humidity, or vigorous physical exertion under the sun, the body may not be able to dissipate the heat and the body temperature rises. On the other side losing fluids and overheating can cause a rash and put one’s health and safety at risk. Dehydration is another reason for heat illness.

Tips: Avoiding strokes

Symptoms of heat stroke or heat exhaustion are: nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, headache, muscle cramps and aches, and dizziness.

To avoid heat stroke use appropriate clothing, a well balanced diet in general with lots of fruits and vegetables, a lot of water and enough sleep at night. Regular work breaks are imperative. Recovery from a heat stroke requires far more time to heal than what a short break provides.

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