GDP will feel the heat | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

GDP will feel the heat

Bahrain is projected to lose more than 2 percentage of its Gross Domestic Product by 2030 from working hours lost to heat stress, warned the latest International Labour Organisation report. The report, which deals with the effect of heat stress on productivity and decent work, projects that working hours lost to heat stress in Bahrain will more than double by the year 2030. In 1995, Bahrain lost 1.9pc of its working hours which led to a loss of 4,600 full-time jobs due to the impact of heat stress, the report says.

The projections outlined in the ILO’s report titled: ‘Working on a Warmer Planet: The Impact of Heat Stress on Labour Productivity and Decent Work’ are based on a global temperature rise of 1.5°C by the end of the twenty-first century, and also on labour force trends. ILO report suggests that, in 2030, 2.2 per cent of total working hours worldwide will be lost to high temperatures – a productivity loss equivalent to 80 million full-time jobs.

This also translates to an economic loss of US$2,400 billion in 2030, which was estimated at US$280 billion in 1995. The report also warns that the impact of heat stress will be most pronounced in the lower-middle- and low-income countries.

Construction sector affected most

The ILO report also paints a similar picture on the labour productivity in the Arab states especially in countries having a high share of employment in the construction sector. The report says: “In 1995, for instance, Qatar and Bahrain lost, respectively, 2.3pc and 1.9pc of working hours (the equivalent of 6,600 and 4,600 full-time jobs) as a result of heat stress, whereas Jordan and Lebanon lost less than 0.1pc.”

Projections for 2030 suggest that the percentage of working hours lost to heat stress will more than double in both Qatar and Bahrain, reaching 5.3pc and 4.1pc, respectively. The Arab States region as a whole is estimated to have lost about 0.5pc of its average GDP in 1995 as a result of heat stress, and this productivity loss is projected to increase to 1.1pc in 2030.

Qatar most affected

The impact of heat stress on labour productivity varies among countries in the region. Qatar is the country most affected: it lost 2.3pc of its GDP in 1995 and is projected to lose 3.2pc in 2030. Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are also expected to lose more than 2pc of their GDP by 2030 as a result of heat stress.

Oman least affected

Other countries in the region are affected by heat stress to a lesser extent. “Thus, the impact of heat stress on labour productivity in Oman is almost negligible: its GDP loss was almost zero in 1995 and is expected to reach only 0.2pc by 2030,” it stated.

Summer work ban started

The two-month summer work ban to protect outdoor workers began on July 1. The ban restricts direct sun-exposed labour activities between midday and 4 pm effective until August 31. The humanitarian move aims to safeguard workers health and their safety against heat exhaustion and sunstroke as well as prevent summer-related diseases and to reduce occupational incidents because of the searing temperatures. 

Labour and Social Development  Minister Jameel bin Mohammed Ali Humaidan called on companies and establishments having worksites exposed directly to sun to comply with the afternoon work ban. Humaidan called all the respective establishments to boost the protective tools to prevent the onset of summer-related ailments as well as potential occupational injuries by rescheduling working hours.

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