Qatar stadium workers stay cool with innovative towels

Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, the body responsible for delivering stadia and infrastructure for the country’s staging of football’s Fifa World Cup in 2022, has provided around 1,000 workers on the site of the Al Wakrah Stadium with innovative cooling towels to help keep them hydrated in stifling temperatures.

The towels can be worn around the neck, arms or in pockets, and create a cooling effect without restricting movement. After being soaked in water, the towels will cool core temperatures for up to four hours. The Supreme Committee said 9,400 towels would be deployed across each of its stadium sites.

The Supreme Committee is also trialling pilot programmes for evaporative cooling vests and an innovative cooled helmet.

Balbir Singh, a health, safety, security and environment officer on Al Wakrah Stadium, said: “Heat stress is an issue at this time of year so we must be extra vigilant in ensuring workers take regular breaks, stay hydrated and have access to shade.

“These towels are a great addition to our summer working practices because they are simple to use and don’t restrict workers’ movement, meaning they are safe. Unsurprisingly, the feedback we’ve had from workers on-site has been very positive and I recommend that all construction sites in hot countries consider offering them to staff.”

Mahmoud Qutub, senior advisor at the Supreme Committee’s special projects office and head of the Workers’ Welfare Division, added: “The feedback on the towels has been very positive so far, but our investment in these cooling technologies illustrates the broader point that innovation is ingrained in everything the SC does, from improving our stadium designs to streamlining our auditing system or making workers more comfortable on-site.”

“By acutely addressing a pressing need – reducing heat stress – at a crucial time of the year, and following the comprehensive set of improvements we have made to our accommodation standards and worker recruitment practices, this initiative truly captures the lengths we are going to in order to make sure our workforce operates in the safest conditions possible.

“I’m very proud of the team for effectively executing this initiative and look forward to reviewing the results of the vests pilot in due course.”

Image: Francisco Anzola