Dozens suffer heat stroke as temperatures top 46°C

Construction workers particularly prone, experts warn, as temperatures top 50°C (122°F) in cranes.

Tags: Heat Wave IEC
Tova Dvorin ,

Sun Heatwave
Sun Heatwave
Photo: Jonathan Zindel / Flash 90

This week's heat wave has debilitated dozens of construction workers, local news revealed Monday, after temperatures reached close to 46°C (114.8°F) in some areas of Israel. 

One worker was seriously injured after falling from a scaffolding in Tel Aviv, Walla! News reports, and several other workers in Kfar Yona were hospitalized for heat stroke.

They join the tens of workers hit by heat stroke since the high temperatures began Sunday; one worker even died from the heat on a building site in Akko (Acre). 

Worry over livelihoods is causing workers to stay on the job despite the dangerously high heat, an expert in the field warned Monday. 

"There is no doubt that the high heat causes lapses in concentration and vigilance on the part of workers, making conditions very difficult for building," Reuven Ben-Shimon, leader of the Forum for Work Accident Prevention, told the daily. "For example, there is often a lack of air conditioning, lack of places to rest; in most places there is no cold drinking water available to employees." 

"Many employees who feel sick are scared and refuse to leave for fear of loss of livelihood and a day's work," he added. 

There are no clear guidelines from the Economy Ministry regarding extreme heat. 

In the meantime, lack of standardization has led some workers - particularly crane operators - to sit in work environments which could easily top 50°C (122°F). More than just heat stroke, they can suffer burns. 

Meanwhile, the Israeli Electric Company (IEC) reported record electricity use Monday - 11,350 megawatts used nationwide Sunday and an expected 11,500 Monday. But the IEC encouraged Israelis to turn on their air conditioning, no matter the strain on the country's resources, due to the risk the high heat has on health and life.