Posted on April 07, 2020

The Public Works Authority ‘Ashghal’ in coordination with the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) has launched severe inspection campaigns at workplaces and labor accommodations to confirm  the compliance of contracting companies in implementing the precautionary and preventive measures taken by Ashghal based on the directives of MADLSA. These campaigns are part of the efforts exerted to protect workers involved in Ashghal projects from infection with Coronavirus (COVID-19).

On this occasion, 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 follows all the instructions directed to the project executing companies to maintain safety of workers at work sites and reduce infection from the Coronavirus. He added that the Khalifa Avenue project is one of the vital projects that achieved 79 million working hours without worktime 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 saying, 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 make them 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 strict compliance with prevention of gathering and maintain social distance.

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Labor Accommodation

Engineer 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 accomodation other than a clinic on the work site, Emergency isolation rooms were also provided in the event of a suspicion of a case to any of the workers, in order to communicate with the authorities in the Ministry of Public Health to take the necessary action.

He added: Labors’ accommodation is located on a land area of 142,724 square meters, which allows a small number within each room, as well as providing kitchen services that follow ISO 22000 standards and serving food in six dining halls designated for each group while ensuring social distancing during meals.

For his part, Mr. Nasser Al Hajri, from the Inspection Department of the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, stressed that the Inspection Department of the Ministry is always conducting visits in coordination with the Public Works Authority to learn about the extent of the representative companies' implementation of labors’ welfare measures in work and accommodation sites, noting that it was ensured that all contractors complied with the directives of the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs with labor and occupational safety measures thanks to the close supervision of Ashghal to keep workers and prevent them from getting infected with the Coronavirus.


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Precautionary and preventive measures taken by Ashghal based on the directives of MADLSA

The Public Works Authority has implemented a number of precautionary measures based on the directives issued by the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour 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 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 included regularly measuring the body temperature of the labors’, monitoring and reporting symptoms of 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. Ashghal has also intensified routine cleaning and sterilization at work sites, accommodation, buses, bathrooms, kitchens, canteens and other places used by labors’, while providing disposable wipes so that workers can wipe out commonly used surfaces such as door handles, keyboards, remote controls, and offices before each use.

Ashghal has also made sure to limit the use of shared spaces (such as shared dining areas and changing rooms) to a limited number of labors’ at the same time in line with the safe distance and the necessary preventive measures, as well as working as much as possible to reduce the population density in the workplace and prohibit all unnecessary personal meetings as much as possible and suspend all training programs. Ashghal has also developed a plan to check labors’ temperature prior to boarding buses to and from workplace and isolate and report any worker whose body temperature is high, in addition to providing additional preventive measures for workers who are most susceptible to getting sick, such as those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart, respiratory disease and other diseases.

Ashghal also determined the number of labors at project sites and on buses that do not exceed 50 workers’ in the bus and sterilize the seats periodically and make sure to use masks and provide hand sanitizers and gloves in the workplace and not to gather inside the workplace and leave a safe distance between workers’ at all times while performing work or in the dining halls without neglecting others safety and health risks in the workplace.