Muscat: Outdoor workers in the Sultanate are happy with their midday breaks, which began due to rising temperatures last month, seeing the break as an opportunity to put down their tools and escape the scorching summer heat.
With temperatures exceeding 45°C, mandatory rest times are much needed for the thousands of men employed on construction sites across the country.
“During the summer we are really tired by noon and our bodies need rest. The break is more than enough to rest and relax,” said a Bangladeshi expat worker, who is the labourer-in-charge at a construction site in Al Khuwair.
He said most of the men use the 12.30pm to 3.30pm break to eat lunch, take a nap or call home.
“Our site has an air-conditioned rest area where they can sleep, and by 3.30pm they are ready for the second shift.”
‘We are getting a good rest in the afternoon and our company is very keen to provide a break for us,” Rajendran K, an Indian expat worker who lays tile along footpaths, told Times of Oman.
“Our company provides transportation to take us to our camp at 12.30pm and to return us to our work site at 3.30pm,” he said.
“I am happy that I am getting enough time to sleep and rest during the day. The mid-day sleep for a few hours always keeps my body healthy,” another worker in the Ghala area said.
Time to relax
“I am a music lover and this break helps me to listen to my favourite film songs during the break. I usually don’t get time to enjoy music during normal working hours. But the break will give me some space to relax,” he added.
Suneel Sharma, a construction worker in Madinat Al Alam, said he calls his family during his breaks. “I will not use all of my midday break sleeping. I will use this time to connect with my friends and family back home,” said the 25-year-old.
According to the doctors in the Sultanate, the public should avoid going outside between 12pm and 3pm. “People should avoid working and going out between these hours, as the temperature is very high; people suffer heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion when the body’s temperature-control system is overloaded,” Dr Jawid Ali Abdul Hameed, Specialist of Internal Medicine at the Badr Al Sama Hospital, told Times of Oman recently.
This year, the Manpower Ministry also introduced various steps to prevent midday break violations, such as a hotline number to report violations.
Still, the Manpower Ministry has discovered 170 companies in violation of midday break rules during the period of June 1 to July 10, according to the ministry.
In 2015, 391 companies were penalised by the ministry for violating the midday break rule, which included 138 businesses in Amerat, 122 in Seeb, 98 in Bausher and 33 in Muttrah.
According to Article 118 of the Oman Labour Law, violators can be penalised with fines ranging from OMR100 to OMR500, or a jail term of not more than one month, or both.
The penalty will be doubled for repeat violations.