PM urges Qatar to follow UK construction safety record
David Cameron has praised the UK’s construction industry for its health and safety record when it was preparing for the 2012 London Olympics, and urged Qatar to improve its standards of care for World Cup stadium workers.
The comment follows a Guardian investigation
, which revealed that dozens of Nepalese migrant labourers have died in Qatar in recent weeks, raising questions about Qatar’s preparations to host the 2022 World Cup.
The investigation found that during the summer, Nepalese workers died at a rate of almost one a day in Qatar, and many of them were young men who had sudden heart attacks.
According to documents obtained by the Guardian from the Nepalese embassy in Doha, at least 44 workers died between 4 June and 8 August, more than half died from heart attacks, heart failure or workplace accidents.
The investigation also revealed evidence of forced labour on the World Cup infrastructure project, and that some labourers claimed they have been denied access to free drinking water in the desert heat.
The Lusail City development is a £28bn city being built from scratch, and will include the 90,000-seater stadium that will host the World Cup final.
The International Trade Union Confederation had warned that at least 4,000 migrant workers could die in construction work leading up to the 2022 World Cup.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, David Cameron said: “We, in the Olympics, I think I’m right in saying, managed to build that entire Olympic Park with the best ever record on safety — no one dying during construction, keeping injuries to an absolute minimum.
“The British construction industry we really can hold up as a good example to the rest of the world.”
He added that while the British building industry didn’t have such a good record in the past, everyone had a duty to insist on the best safety standards.
Qatari labour minister, Saleh al-Khulaifi, responded to the Guardian reports insisting the Gulf State would recruit more inspectors to perform checks on companies to ensure that they are complying with labour laws.
The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, tasked with organising the World Cup, has yet to start work on projects directly relating to the World Cup. It said it was “deeply concerned with the allegations that have been made against certain contractors/subcontractors working on Lusail City’s construction site”.
The supreme committee added that while construction work directly relating to the World Cup hadn’t yet started it firmly believes that “all workers engaged on our projects and those of the other infrastructure developers in Qatar, have a right to be treated in a manner that ensures at all times their wellbeing, safety security and dignity. This is our top priority as we begin to deliver on the promises made in our bid to host the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar.”
In response to the investigation
, Lusail Real Estate Development Company told the Guardian: “Lusail City will not tolerate breaches of labour or health and safety law. We continually instruct our contractors and their subcontractors of our expectations and their contractual obligations to both us and individual employees.
It went on to add: “Based on this investigation, we will take appropriate action against any individual or company who has found to have broken the law or contract with us.”
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