The Supreme Committee for Legacy and Development of the Qatar 2022 World Cup has released a statement though their website sc.qa after the Human Rights Watch released a report on the mistreatment of the workers who are working at the World Cup construction sites.
The report claims that the Qatari authorities are still not doing enough to protect migrant workers from the country’s extreme heat and humidity, even those working on World Cup stadiums, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
The statement says:
“SC is committed to promoting and protecting the welfare, health and safety of all workers building stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup™. We acknowledge the concerns raised by Human Rights Watch (HRW), which we have discussed at length with HRW representatives over the last few weeks.
However, we whole-heartedly refute the suggestion the SC has “abdicated responsibility” or that the SC has failed to protect the lives of workers on our projects.
We have received constructive feedback from HRW on the Humidex system. We are continuously striving to enhance the system and are exploring new approaches, such as capturing data on a year-long basis. In addition, as we communicated to HRW, we are also considering their recommendations in relation to the Wet Globe Bulb Temperature (WBGT) system.
However we remain of the view that the Humidex system, which is internationally recognised, is an accurate and effective method of monitoring work conditions on site. Indeed, HRW has recognised the efforts made to protect workers on our sites during hotter times of the year.
To date there have been two work-related fatalities and nine non-work related deaths of workers engaged on our projects. The SC profoundly regrets the death of any worker, and we treat every incident with the utmost seriousness.
However, the SC does not have the authority or mandate to determine cause of death, which is reflected in death certificates issued by the medical authorities in Qatar. HRW has received all information available from those death certificates. The role of the SC is to oversee health and safety on our sites and ensure our Workers’ Welfare Standards (WWS) are implemented.
The SC investigates all fatalities on SC sites to establish whether they could have been prevented and, if so, to identify improvements for the future. The SC has provided HRW with the information requested concerning the circumstances surrounding non-work related deaths on our projects.
We not only strive to ensure high health and safety standards on our sites, but also invest in initiatives to improve and enhance workers’ welfare. The WWS include detailed requirements for medical screening, facilities and treatment for workers.
Moreover, in 2017 alone we have launched a nutrition and health screening programme with renowned medical college Weill-Cornell Medicine Qatar, conducted a root-and-branch review of medical facilities on all our sites, completed health checks on 12,000 workers and introduced cooled technology on-site to make workers more comfortable during the hotter months of the year.
Our commitment to the health and safety of our workers will never diminish as we prepare to host a FIFA World Cup™ that will leave a true legacy for Qatar, the region and the rest of the world.”
In a statement, HRW Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson said: “Enforcing appropriate restrictions on outdoor work and regularly investigating and publicising information about worker deaths is essential to protect the health and lives of construction workers in Qatar.
“Limiting work hours to safe temperatures — not set by a clock or calendar — is well within the capacity of the Qatari government and will help protect hundreds of thousands of workers.”
“Qatar sought the spotlight by bidding for the 2022 World Cup, brought in hundreds of thousands of migrant workers to build roads, stadiums, and hotels, and then shelved key recommendations from their own consultants to investigate migrant worker deaths,” Whitson said.
“FIFA and national football associations should make clear they expect life-saving changes to law and practice that could set a Gulf-wide example of how to save construction worker lives now and in the future.”