Manama: A midday break at construction sites, implemented in July and August in Bahrain, has been crucial in saving workers' lives, the labour minister has said.
"We have received an overwhelming response from construction companies in their compliance with the government's ban on work under the scorching heat between noon and 4pm," Dr Majeed Al Alawi said.
"The fact that a large number of companies adhered to the directives of the government has paid off in saving lives and limiting accidents. There were no deaths reported and incidents of heat stress at construction sites has been substantially reduced."
Following last year's success of the government's decision to stop work in open areas between noon and 4pm for two months, the government re-introduced the system this summer.
"Only two per cent of the companies did not comply with the ban this summer, down from 12 per cent last year. We acknowledge the cooperation of the companies in achieving the government's objectives to provide a safe and healthy environment for workers in line with international standards," Al Alawi said.
This summer, labour and safety inspectors made 14,348 visits to construction sites throughout Bahrain.
"They found that 14,014 companies complied, while 334 establishments, employing 1,415 workers, were found violating the directives and were reported to the public prosecution," Al Alawi said.
Last year, in the wake of visits to 3,383 sites, 472 establishments, employing 1,641 workers, were taken to court. Violators are fined between 50 and 300 Bahraini dinars (Dh500-3,000) for each worker involved.
Medical sources said the heat ban last year helped reduce the cases of workers falling off buildings by 50 per cent.