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Project September 9, 2022

Too Hot for Work: How Qatar Offers Lessons for the Economy of a Heating Planet

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To tell this story for TIME, the reporting team of Aryn Baker, Ed Kashi, and Tom Laffay begins at Qatar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup construction sites and introduces viewers to a largely Nepalese workforce that has helped build the new infrastructure. They investigate the high numbers of deaths and accidents among workers during the last decade, many of which, experts believe, are tied to heat. After international criticism, Qatar’s government implemented major reforms to protect its labor force from high temperatures last year, but for most of the migrant workers, it was already too late.

The story takes readers to Nepal, where several villages have welcomed home workers now suffering from chronic kidney disease. We speak with the head of the nephrology unit at Kathmandu’s central hospital to discuss the consequences for a nation that has only a handful of dialysis machines. We also visit the recruitment centers to learn how they are (or are not) informing their clients about the risk of heat exposure.

Finally, we turn to the United States, where a few states have already enacted worker protection laws that ensure adequate rest, shade, and water for outdoor labor forces to mitigate exposure. Yet getting those simple regulations in place on a national level has been an uphill battle.

Image caption: A general view of inside the Lusail Stadium under construction, which is scheduled to host the opening and final matches of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup. Workers often labor under extreme heat during summer months. Image by Noushad Thekkayil/Shutterstock. Qatar, 2020.

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