Tuesday, September 28
06:41 PM

When the going gets tough…

9 May 2021 By SHADDAD AL MUSALMY

Long, hot summer days in Ramadan pose more challenges for outdoor workers. Observing the fast is made harder as the mercury rises with each passing day.

Today, I dedicate this space to highlight the aspects endangering the health and lives of outdoor workers.

While driving to work every morning, I am often overwhelmed seeing these workers at many construction sites on the way having no choice but to bear the heat. “The scorching sun makes it more difficult, but we have to try hard not to break the fast because we need the rewards of fasting,” one worker told me.

These are people caught between observing the tenets of Islam and making ends meet. Many blue-collar workers who I spoke with said if they don’t work even a single day, they go hungry. “We are lucky to get some time to rest before iftar. But it’s tough, especially in the heat and long days of summer,” a construction site foreman told me.

Even a brief visit to any of these sites makes it amply evident that they start work early morning and by noon, they are worn out. It is a hard life. “We sometimes have to stop work just to be safe. We are lucky our supervisor understands the situation but then work gets delayed,” a construction worker said. 

Others revealed they quietly break their fast, in the hope that Allah understands that working without water and food in the heat compounds their professional hazards. 

“I believe in Ramadan, but it is not intended to make you sick or put you in danger,” a plumber said.

Islamic clerics say breaking the fast is permissible in difficult circumstances. Islam exempts the elderly, the sick, pregnant woman, children and travellers from the fast as long as they make up for the days later.

Every Ramadan, hospitals treat patients suffering from the effects of heat exhaustion caused by water and salt depletion. Health experts reiterate that the faithful who fast should drink a lot of water between iftar and suhoor to avoid dehydration. Outdoor workers also need to increase water consumption in the evening to ensure the digestive track is sufficiently lubricated to prevent constipation and other digestive problems.

Truck drivers should also be cautious during Ramadan and avoid tailgating and speeding in all circumstances as drivers’ reaction time may be slower than in the non-fasting times. 

While being prepared for the unexpected, driving fast and road rage are strictly no-no is all circumstances. Take extra care when driving in Ramadan considering many other road users are also tired and fatigued.

We all understand the pressure to complete the job within reduced working hours, the rush on the roads before iftar and the impatience of some drivers during Ramadan which often lead to accidents. But we all need to focus on being safe.

According to experts, high temperatures can cause fatigue and exhaustion, which result in reduced concentration, vigilance and alertness and consequently increase the risk of crashing.

Say a kind word to put a smile on these workers’ faces. Until next time… 

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