Thousands of World Cup stadium workers in Qatar have been handed “cooling vests” to help them cope with building tournament venues in the desert country’s extreme temperatures.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, Qatar’s World Cup organisers, said the “state-of-the-art” vests can reduce the wearer’s body temperatures by up to 15 degrees Celsius.
“The cooling vest has the potential to transform the lives of our workers,” said Mahmoud Qutub, a workers’ welfare executive with the committee, in a statement posted on its website.
They have been developed in conjunction with a British-based cooling technology company, TechNiche.
The dayglo vests work after being submerged in water.
The water is then soaked up by a polymer fibre within the vest, said the committee.
As the water evaporates airflows built into the vest cool down the wearer.
The fabric “holds the water layer for slow evaporation over several hours, delivering constant cooling”, read the statement.
Organisers say 3,500 vests have so far been given to workers such as steel fixers, carpenters and scaffolders.
Currently there are almost 26,000 workers helping build or refurbish Qatar’s eight proposed stadiums.
Last year a study by Human Rights Watch claimed thousands of construction workers were being subjected to potentially life-threatening heat while toiling in fierce temperatures.
Thursday is the final day of summer working restrictions in Qatar, which saw labourers prevented from working outside from 11:30 am to 3 pm from June 15.
Although that restriction ends on September 1, forecasts for the first few days of next month estimate temperatures will be around the 40 degrees Celsius mark (104 fahrenheit).
When it surprisingly won the right to host the 2022 World Cup, Qatar initially was set to host the tournament during its summer.
It was shifted by FIFA to be played in November and December 2022, as a summer tournament in the Gulf was seen as unworkable, despite organisers promising air-conditioned stadiums.