Abu Dhabi introduces heat stress measure to protect outdoor workers

Thermal Work Limit gauges factors that affect the human body’s ability to cool down

A new heat stress measure being introduced in Abu Dhabi will help protect workers from the summer heat.

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A recently introduced heat stress measure will be used more widely across the emirate of Abu Dhabi this summer, senior health officials said on Tuesday.

The measure, known as the Thermal Work Limit, gauges factors that affect the human body’s ability to cool down, and guide the protection of workers in high temperatures and harsh working conditions, said Darren Joubert, senior officer for occupational health, safety and environment at the Health Authority Abu Dhabi.

“Calculating and managing work according to the TWL is now required by the emirate’s Environment, Health and Safety Management System (EHSMS). The HAAD has also developed an online tool that enables TWL measurement,” he told Gulf News.

Joubert was speaking on the side-lines of a conference to launch HAAD’s ‘Safety in Heat’ programme, which seeks to create awareness of the risks the summer heat poses to all outdoor workers in the emirate. It also provided guidelines and educational materials to aid heat safety and protection.

He explained that the TWL measure, which yields a single number, combines factors like air temperature, evaporation rate, radiant heat and wind speed. The lower the number, the harsher the working environment.

“Each of these factors in the TWL affects how quickly the human body can cool down by sweat evaporation. For example, if the humidity is high, the evaporation rate falls, thus lowering the TWL,” he said.

Depending on the TWL, there is a recommended schedule for work, rest and hydration. At a TWL below 115 for instance, the conditions are deemed harsh, and workers must drink 1.2 litres of water per hour. Light work can continue for 45 minutes, with 15 minutes of rest, while heavy work must only be undertaken for 20 minutes, with 40 minutes of rest, the newspaper report said.


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