Cooled vests and towels demonstrate commitment to protect workers during summer months

The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), the organisation responsible for delivering the infrastructure required to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™, has begun rolling out innovative technologies designed to keep workers on official World Cup sites cool during the summer months.

Around 1,000 workers on Al Wakrah Stadium recently received pioneering cooling towels to make working outside more comfortable. The towels, which workers can wear on their necks, arms or in their pocket to create a cooling effect without restricting movement, will cool core temperatures for up to four hours after being submerged in water. A total of 9,400 towels will be deployed across all SC projects.

The towels are being distributed simultaneously with two pilot programmes involving cooling technologies across multiple World Cup stadium construction sites. The first, which is undergoing trials in Al Wakrah Stadium, is a lightweight evaporative cooling vest that reduces heat stress and fatigue by cooling the upper body, where the cardiovascular system is located. In addition, the SC is in the process of putting into trial an innovative cooled helmet, which it has developed with scientists from Qatar University and Aspire Zone Foundation that can cool the wearer by up to 10°C. If successful, the helmets will also be rolled to workers across SC construction sites.

Balbir Singh, a Health, Safety, Security & Environment (HSSE) Officer on Al Wakrah Stadium, said:

Heat stress is an issue at this time of year so we must be extra vigilant in ensuring workers take regular breaks, stay hydrated and have access to shade. These towels are great addition to our summer working practices because they are simple to use and don’t restrict workers’ movement. Unsurprisingly, the feedback we’ve had from workers on-site has been very positive and I recommend that all construction sites in hot countries consider offering them to staff.’

The SC together with Midmac and PORR Qatar/ Six Construct – the Joint Venture Main Contractors in charge of Al Wakrah Stadium – are working together to ensure the delivery of an initiative that will continue to protect workers on SC projects during the height of the summer heat.

Mahmoud Qutub, Senior Advisor at the SC Special Projects Office and Head of the SC Workers Welfare Division (WWD), said:

The feedback on the towels has been very positive so far, but our investment in these cooling technologies illustrates the broader point that innovation is ingrained in everything the SC does, from improving our stadium designs to streamlining our auditing system or making workers more comfortable on-site. By acutely addressing a pressing need – reducing heat stress – at a crucial time of year, and following the comprehensive set of improvements we have made to our accommodation standards and worker recruitment practices, this initiative truly captures the lengths we are going to in order to make sure our workforce operates in the safest conditions possible. I’m very proud of the team for effectively executing this initiative and I look forward to reviewing the results of the vests pilot in due course.’

The SC’s investments in cooling technology for workers supplement the stringent working practices it already enforces across World Cup construction sites during summer. Last month, the SC activated a new electronic humidex index measuring device as part of its Smart Work Safety Management Solution (SHAMS). The device issues automatic ‘no work alerts’ when the humidex index is reached, by way of a flashing bulb and sound, replacing a manual system common across the Gulf (safety officers usually 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 Centre (QMIC) at Qatar Science and Technology Park.

The cooling technology rollout further establishes 2017 as a breakthrough year in terms of workers’ welfare on 2022 World Cup projects. In April, the SC’s independent third party monitor, Impactt Ltd, published its first annual report, which praised the SC’s overall direction of travel on workers’ welfare while identifying opportunities for improvement. The WWD also recently commissioned health screenings of workers by the renowned Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar and activated a new anonymous hotline to provide workers with another method for raising grievances, in addition to existing processes such as Workers’ Welfare Forum.

Visit the SC website for more information.