The construction industry is challenging for anyone who works in the sector. The demands of the job require individuals to be fit and healthy.
In cases of ill health, workers on our projects receive accelerated examinations, diagnosis and treatment.
What is the SC responsible for?
It is our duty to work with our contractors and create an environment where the health of workers is protected for the entire time they are involved in Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) projects. We take a holistic approach to maintain the same standards across all of our sites.
At all times, we follow the principle that prevention is better than the cure.
What are we doing and what have we achieved?
As in many parts of the world, high temperatures in the summer months present safety challenges when working outside. We treat these challenges as opportunities to find solutions for our workers, which could then be applied to other projects around the region and the rest of the world. Cooling technology is one way to address these challenges.
In November 2017 and March 2018, the SC conducted extensive cooling trials with industry experts TechNiche. The ultimate aim of the pilot was to develop a bespoke wearable cooling product that would leave a lasting legacy. In total, 120 workers from HBK – the main contractor on Lusail Stadium – tested the evaporative technology.
The result was the development of a new cooling vest designed around the reality of working on site and with workers' feedback in mind. The tailored vest was tested in a further pilot in March 2018. The vests will be rolled out across SC sites, along with a revolutionary StayQool suit, which works in both humidity and dry heat. The SC will deploy suits to all of our workers throughout 2019.
In 2017, around 1,000 workers at Al Janoub Stadium received cooling towels to provide relief during outdoor work. The towels cool core temperatures for up to four hours after being submerged in water. A total of 9,400 towels were eventually deployed across all SC projects.
The towels were distributed in parallel with two additional pilot projects involving cooling technologies. The first of these projects involved a lightweight vest designed to reduce heat stress and fatigue. In addition, we developed an innovative cooling helmet that can cool the wearer by up to 10C. The helmet, which was developed with scientists from Qatar University and Aspire Zone Foundation, was also tested at Al Janoub Stadium.
We expect all workers to receive health checks before starting work on SC projects. Yet we understand that these may not always happen, which is why the SC is proactive in identifying historical health problems that may cause future issues for our workers.
One issue that continues to be a major challenge is workers and recruitment agents circumventing the Gulf-Approved Medical Centres Association (GAMCA) system for the issuance of valid medical certificates. GAMCA-approved pre-deployment medical examinations ensure that workers are healthy and fit for duty, identifying any pre-existing conditions that may need to be addressed in the country of origin.
Full compliance with GAMCA requires a multi-stakeholder approach that includes recruitment agents and labour supply firms, relevant authorities, contractors and the SC. We are currently working with contractors to explore alternative ways of addressing this issue, such as mandating annual medical examinations, particularly for those workers who were in Qatar prior to commencing work on SC projects. Some contractors are following this practice.
In 2017, we carried out 12,000 health screenings, which helped us to profile the health needs of our workers. When issues were identified that required further investigation or treatment, we worked with our contractors to deliver the necessary medical care. We also carried out assessments to evaluate the current standard of licensed medical facilities. The team identified gaps at 14 of our sites and offered solutions that could immediately make a difference to the level of healthcare on site and at our workers' accommodation.
Another assessment examined the emergency response capability across our projects, identifying challenges and opportunities to improve readiness for potential incidents. It also provided a baseline for future evaluations, supporting the process of continuous improvement.
In addition, we have partnered with Qatar Red Crescent to deliver comprehensive health checks across all projects. Through close collaboration with our contractors, we have ensured comprehensive medical examinations for more than 18,590 workers. This initiative will continue until all workers have been assessed.
In 2017, we entered into a partnership agreement with Weill Cornell Medicine - Qatar (WCM-Q) to assess the health of workers on FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™- related projects. It involves collaborating with workers, contractors and catering supply companies to improve nutrition, research and training.
The pilot project, which started in February 2017, saw a team of clinical researchers from WCM-Q examine workers' health, diets and general awareness of the importance of nutrition. The researchers evaluated current nutritional intake and identified prevalent health challenges among workers, including high blood pressure, blood glucose issues, kidney function, hydration status and respiratory measurements, which improved diets may help to resolve.
The pilot, which initially targeted a random sample of 1,000 workers on SC projects, has three phases: health checks; an awareness and training campaign with workers, contractors and caterers; and final recommendations to improve nutrition and menu options on site and in accommodations.
The first year of the initiative concluded with the release of a detailed report that summarises its outcomes, impact and key findings, and makes recommendations for future interventions.
In early 2019, the SC entered into a three-year agreement with WCM-Q to deliver the nutrition programme to all SC workers.
In early 2018, the SC collaborated with The Phoenix Partnership (TPP) to deliver a pilot at Education City Stadium, setting up electronic medical records for workers. This initiative addressed the need for workers to have a single medical record that any health practitioner could access. As of April 2019, 29,648 workers have registered with TPP, with the system deployed across Education City, Ras Abu Aboud, Lusail, Al Thumama and Al Rayyan Stadiums.
Our investments in cooling technology for workers supplement the stringent working practices we already enforce across all FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ construction sites. In early 2017, we activated a new electronic humidex measuring device – which tracks temperature and humidity – as part of our smart work safety management solution (SHAMS).
The device issues automatic "no work" alerts when a specific humidex value is reached, by way of a flashing light and sound. This replaces a manual system common across the Gulf region under which safety officers hoist black flags to indicate that construction activity must cease. The innovative device is a regional first and has been developed by the SC in collaboration with Qatar Mobility Innovations Center (QMIC) at Qatar Science & Technology Park.
• 12,000 workers given health checks in 2017
• 27,544 workers received comprehensive medical screenings as of January 2020
• 38,119 workers registered with TPP as of January 2020
• 1,050 workers tested in the WCM-Q nutrition programme in 2017 and 1,379 workers tested in 2019
• 100 high-risk workers identified and given further treatment
• 9,400 cooling towels distributed on SC sites in 2017
• 1,000 workers at Al Janoub Stadium participated in the first cooling technology pilot
• 3,500 cooling vests across SC construction sites in 2018
• 30,000 StayQool suits deployed throughout 2019
• 255 hours shut down on site as a result of humidex readings during summer
During a pilot initiative at Lusail Stadium in November 2017, the SC tested a range of state-of-the-art cooling technologies, including special vests, wrist-wraps, towels and neck covers. While temperatures reached 40C on site, thermal cameras demonstrated the body temperature of workers wearing the technology was around 10C cooler.
After an entire day on site, the Lusail Stadium workers outlined the impact the cooling vests had.
Rashid Marera, a 23-year-old traffic coordinator from Kenya, said: "The vests are very good – we need these during the summer time. These cooling systems would help us a lot during this time."
'The jacket is very nice and we appreciate it. Having the jacket cools the body and we don't sweat much when we wear these.'