Issued in light of the ongoing heatwave, the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India had directed state governments to take steps for the management and mitigation of adverse effects of extreme hot weather. A meeting was held in this regard on 19.04.2023 wherein certain instructions/directions were issued to occupiers/employers/construction companies/industries such as rescheduling of working hours, regulation of piece rate and equipment, ensuring adequate availability of drinking water facilities, provisions for ice packs and emergency heat illness prevention material to construction workers, etc.
It also included a directive for the stakeholders to adhere to the Health Advisory issued by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for Employees and Workers, the said advisory included instructions such as the provision of cool drinking water and regular reminders every 20 minutes or less to stay hydrated, cautioning the workers to avoid direct sunlight, creation of temporary shelters at worksites to provide workers with a shaded rest area, scheduling of strenuous outdoor jobs to cooler times of the day, increasing the frequency of breaks (5 minutes for every hour of labour work), keeping abreast with the latest weather updates, assigning additional workers to slow down the pace of work, ensuring proper acclimatization of workers coming from different states, until acclimatization workers should not be worked more than 3 hours a day for at least the first week, post which hours can be gradually increased. Workers should further be trained to recognize factors that may increase the risk of heat-related illness and symptoms of heat stress, starting a buddy system would be advised. Provision should be made for trained First-Aid providers and an emergency response plan for heat related illnesses.
Pregnant workers and those with medical conditions should discuss with their physicians about working in the heat. It should be advised to workers that those working in direct sunlight must wear light coloured and preferably long-sleeved shirts and pants and cover their heads to prevent exposure to direct sunlight. Employers are further directed to distribute informational pamphlets and organize training for themselves and workers regarding the health impacts of extreme heat and recommendations to protect themselves in high temperatures.
In addition to the above, employers are also instructed to coordinate with the District Administration/Health Department for regular meetings and updates with regard to heat wave preparedness and have been encouraged to maintain sufficient quantities of drinking water/buttermilk at a suitable place, easily accessible to the workers, maintain stocks of ORS packets, essential medicines, intravenous fluids, ice packs, etc. during the season of intense heat. Messages in this regard would also be shared by the Labour Department with all the stakeholders.