Employers reminded to protect field workers during heat wave

Amman Heat wave Heatwave
A municipal water truck sprays water on pedestrians in downtown Amman, during a heat wave, on August 27, 2022. (Photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — As the Kingdom experiences the longest heat wave of this summer, warnings have been issued concerning public health in general, and the protection of workers who could be exposed to heat stress, in particular. اضافة اعلان

The General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions (GFJTU) called on employers in various economic sectors to abide by occupational health and safety requirements within the work environment during the current heat wave forecast affecting Jordan until the beginning of next week. Temperatures in Amman are expected to reach a high of 39O during the day.

In a statement on Saturday, The  GFJTU also advised workers to avoid exposure to direct sunlight during peak times, urging business owners to ensure their safety.

Workers perform their tasks under direct sunlight and in open spaces in many labor sectors, and this makes it incumbent on employers to take measures to maintain the employees’ safety and health, primarily work rotation and resting hours.

Calling on laborers to suspend their activity in open places during the peak period, for their own safety, The GFJTU said occupational safety and health requirements are workers’ right, guaranteed by the Labor Law, and it is the employers’ responsibility to ensure them.

Meanwhile, Workers’ House, an NGO’ in Jordan that seeks to improve working conditions, also issued a warning on Saturday, asking employers to abide by occupational health and safety requirements.

Director of Workers’ House Hamada Abu Nijmeh praised the prompt response of the Greater Amman Municipality, which announced that it will be reducing working hours for any field worker by pausing work from noon till 4pm on Saturday and Sunday. He also praised the decision by the Greater Irbid Municipality to end the shift for such workers at 12:30pm.

A Workers’ House statement stressed that the Labor Law obliges employers to protect their employees and to take all measures needed to prevent any harm from affecting them.

The statement also pointed to the danger of heat stress on workers, which could lead to dehydration and death from exposure. The statement said it is important to let workers rest, supply them with cold water, and provide them with light clothes and personal protection gear.

The statement also stressed the importance of looking out for signs of heat stress, such as headaches, nausea, fatigue, and body temperature.

Labor Ministry spokesperson Jameel Al-Qadi told Jordan News that the ministry had posted several cautionary notices warning of the dangers of exposure and heat stress, and calling on employers to adopt safety measures.

Abu Nijmeh, however, said the ministry should have issued a statement similar to the one released last year, through which it obliged employers not to have laborers working in open spaces that are exposed to direct sun light, especially during the peak period between noon and 3pm, adding that the delay in issuing such a statement is unjustified.

“It is quite shameful to see the Ministry of Agriculture issue a statement asking farmers to take care of animals during the heat wave, and the Ministry of Labor not asking employers to protect their workers,” Abu Nijmeh said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Local Administration on Saturday instructed Jordan’s municipalities to reduce daytime working hours for outdoor cleaners and field employees, during the heat wave peak hours.

According to the ministry’s statement, the decision was taken in light of the current heat wave forecast to afflict the Kingdom as of Saturday, based on Jordan Meteorological Department updates.

Mazen Maaytah, president of the GFJTU, told Jordan News that “while Jordan is not used to extreme heat waves, the need to add a legal article in the Labor Law that protects workers’ rights is essential, so that we do not have to wait for statements every time”.

Ayman, an Egyptian builder aged 43, who works in the Northern Jordan Valley, told Jordan News that during peak heat hours workers ask their employer to grant them a break, but that they will make up for that in the afternoon.

“We have reached an agreement with the employer to work only at night during the summer and rest in the morning, and thankfully he agreed,” Ayman said.

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