The Government of Qatar and the ILO held an international conference on occupational heat stress in Doha on May 9-10, 2023. The conference brought together international experts, government officials, workers’ and employers’ organizations to share experiences and strategies to prevent and mitigate the impact of heat stress on workers worldwide.
DOHA (ILO News) – Qatar’s Ministry of Labour and the International Labour Organization (ILO) held a two-day international conference titled “Occupational Heat Stress: Implementation of Practices, Sharing of Experiences” in Doha, Qatar on 9-10 May 2023. The conference brought together government, workers’ and employers’ representatives from the Arab States, as well as leading researchers in the field of heat stress from around the world.
The challenges of working on an increasingly warmer planet are affecting workers in a growing number of countries across the world, elevating the risk of occupational heat‐related diseases. The conference facilitated an extensive exchange of knowledge and experiences on this critical issue, and explored ways to prevent and mitigate related hazards.
The conference was held just two weeks after World Day for Safety and Health at Work on 28 April. This year’s international day celebrated the decision made at the International Labour Conference in June 2022 to adopt a resolution that added the principle of a safe and healthy working environment to the ILO’s Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
“Unseasonably warm temperatures are not only causing significant disruption and damage to the environment, but their impact on human health is reaching alarming proportions,” said Ruba Jaradat, ILO Regional Director for Arab States. “Heat stress also reduces worker productivity. We estimate that 2 per cent of total working hours worldwide will be lost every year, either because it is too hot to work or because workers have to work at a slower pace. More concerted commitment by governments and employers is needed to prevent and mitigate the impact of heat stress on workers worldwide.”
To set the scene at the global level, ILO specialists discussed the findings of the Working on a warmer planet: The effect of heat stress on productivity and decent work report, as well as the latest research evidence on the effects of heat exposure on health, and policy recommendations.
The Government of Qatar presented an overview of the research on heat stress undertaken in the country in 2019, and how this informed new legislation , which entered into force in 2021. In addition to expanding the hours during the summer months when outdoor work is prohibited, the new measures also require annual health checks for workers and mandatory risk assessments to be prepared by enterprises.
Participants also shared international experiences on related research, featuring presentations on experiences from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.