The holy month of Ramadan begins on Monday (6 May) and is being observed by Muslims across the world. Mark Leary, the former Vice-Chair of IOSH’s UAE Branch, provides top tips on how businesses and employees can mitigate against possible health and safety risks.
Organisations should be aware that health and safety risks may increase because of the effects of fasting. It can cause a lack of concentration and exhaustion, especially when combined with the traditional temperature increase as we head into summer in different parts of the world.
In the UAE, the government aids managing the health and safety risks through the UAE Labour Law. In Title Four (Working Hours and Leaves), Chapter One, Article 65 it states that “The ordinary working hours shall be reduced by two hours during Ramadan”.
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This means organisations will need to plan their workload to allow for reduced hours, extra break and rest times, plan critical tasks in the morning when employees are most attentive and routine tasks for later in the day.
Remember, during the Holy Month of Ramadan many of your employees will be fasting, which may result in them being fatigued and dehydrated. To mitigate against the risks, the following tips can be used:
Plan work activities accordingly to accommodate for reduced hours and employees fasting.
Increase awareness on the warning signs of fatigue and dehydration.
Ensure your employees rest indoors during the hottest part of the day.
Arrange for a separate welfare facility area such as canteens to allow for non-fasting employees to eat and stay hydrated without causing offence.
Encourage rests and breaks if employees appear tired or fatigued.
Ensure suitable arrangements for first aid or medical assistance in case of emergency.
Ensure adequate supervision is provided to all employees and try to avoid lone working.
Increase employee engagement to encourage your employees to be open if they are feeling any adverse effects.
Plan for summer working.
The following are things that employees themselves can do:
Ensure you don’t skip your Suhour; take it as close to dawn as possible. It’s an extremely important meal to ensure you sustain your energy throughout the day.
When fast is broken, avoid caffeine and sugary drinks, drink plenty of fluids and aim to drink three litres between Iftar and Suhour.
Manage your workload to ensure strenuous tasks are conducted in the morning.
Ensure you take regular breaks in a cool or shaded area.
Ensure you monitor your own physical condition and also that of your colleagues.
Plan your journey to work, ensuring you leave yourself plenty of time to travel as driving conditions can worsen during Ramadan. If you are feeling fatigued consider alternative means of transport.
Maintain open communication with colleagues and management.
Try and get at least seven hours sleep a night.
Stay safe and Ramadan Kareem.