Dubai eyes safety crackdown after fire kills workers

DUBAI - Dubai may close more than 400 workers' hostels for failing safety standards, a municipal official was quoted on Friday as saying, after a fire killed 11 Asian labourers in an overcrowded house this week.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Fri 29 Aug 2008, 10:05 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 5:12 PM

Redha Salman, the Dubai Municipality's public health director, said 40 percent of the 1,033 permanent and temporary living quarters in the booming Gulf Arab emirate risked closure after being warned for failing health and fire safety standards, The National newspaper reported.

The fire in the early hours of Tuesday swept through a building housing about 800 labourers, with about 20 workers sharing each room. Two leaseholders of the building were arrested for violating health and safety regulations, the daily said.

"Currently, only 60 percent (of the housing facilities) meet the standards," Salman said. "Those (that) were not serious violators and only failed a few check points were given six- (month) to one-year probation."

Construction workers in the Gulf trade hub, which is building the world's tallest tower and man-made islands, have long complained about poor working conditions.

The UAE government has revised the labour law to include requirements that employers pay for migrant workers' travel, employment permits, medical tests and health care.

It has also closed down some workers' hostels that do not meet health and safety standards in a crackdown on firms abusing foreign workers.

Many cities in the Gulf region are growing rapidly as governments plough oil revenue windfalls into ambitious development and infrastructure projects that rely on guest workers, mainly from the Indian subcontinent.

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