In an Immense Void

Take a good look. Nothing to protect the eyes, no hard hats, no gloves, no proper footwear, no problem. This is what a man wears to do a day's labor in Lebanon.

They were hard at work not too far from this guy in the straw cowboy hat.

See his sandals?

This is where I found these shots, in the most massive construction site I've seen so far.

Don't go thinking these fellows are some kind of anomaly. One rarely sees a hard hat around here. You'll also rarely see decent shoes, and I've NEVER seen gloves. Almost every man (again, it's never a woman) who works these kinds of jobs is as unprotected as these guys.


  1. Good reporting. That IS a big site.
    Do you think this attitude may come from the Middle Eastern belief in "Fate"? Like, when it's my time to die, I will die.

  2. hmmm. I don't know what role that might play, mostly because I don't have a handle on that aspect of the culture.

    When I look at these men, I mostly see only two contributing factors.

    First, poverty. That's why these men don't have a decent pair of shoes (gloves, etc.). I've done enough heavy work myself to know the value of gloves or dust masks. They make all the difference in the world, but they're a recurring expense. They wear out and then you have to replace them. Poverty gets in the way of that.

    Second, where enforcement of contracts is concerned, Lebanon is among the worst. In the US, businesses have obligations toward employees. Anyone injured on-the-job is entitled to monetary compensation for pain and suffering AND for lost wages if the injury is so severe they can't work. Any employer who doesn't do this will very likely be dragged to court and there they will lose. To avoid liability in such cases, American companies have to demand that their workers take precautionary measures. Protective gear may even be supplied or subsidized by employers for exactly this reason.

    But that's not the case here. There's no incentive for these construction firms to ensure that the workers are properly protected, and the workers themselves are often too poor to buy these things for themselves.

  3. This looks like our world before things went mad with everyone in fluro jackets, hard hats, steel capped boots, leather gloves, goggles, masks and you name it. I think there is a right balance somewhere. Things have gone into overkill.

  4. That's a shame if a long-time employer does not provide the gear for his workers.

    When I work archaeology we are not allowed on the site without work boots. But the Antiquities Authority supplies hardhats, gloves, and safety vests. Many of my colleagues, Arab men, do not like the safety equipment. Maybe they think it is not manly.
    The contractor "ra'is" is always trying to enforce the safety rules.

  5. Interesting post. I don't suppose there are stats in Beirut on work-related accidents.

    Is there national health insurance in Lebanon?

  6. I'd be shocked if there was reliable data about work related injuries. It'd be the pleasant kind of shock.

    Not sure about insurance-my own insurance is private, issued by a foreign corporation.

    But, I believe there is assistance for poor. Medical bills aren't insane the way they are in the US, so perhaps it can be managed out-of-pocket by most people.