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Heat stroke at construction sites
By Ir Victor TSE Wing Fung

If you choose to listen to this article, you are welcome to download the PDF version of the Journal (September 2022 issue) and activate the "Read Out Loud" function in Adobe Reader. For more details, please read the user's note.

 

With each summer getting hotter and hotter, it is now more crucial than ever to take notice of the requirements and safety measures for working under hot weather in our industry.

 

According to an analysis of construction fatalities in Hong Kong, accidents which happened in the summer, between June and September, account for nearly 50% of the total number. Hot and humid weather is a leading factor that causes a surge in major fatal risks, including electrocution, falling from height, being struck by moving plants and more. We shall proactively anticipate and be prepared for the weather to prevent all heat-induced disorders and accidents.

 

If symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke such as headache, nausea, shortness of breath and metal confusion arise, stop all work immediately and medical emergency intervention shall be given. As for precautions against heat stroke, the guidelines provided by the Labour Department and CIC shed light on how to effectively reduce the adverse effects brought on by hot weather. They can be categorised into four main areas: work arrangements, cool down facilities, drinks and clothing, training and first aid.

 

Taking heed of weather report and warnings, providing regular breaks or rotating roles, rescheduling works for cooler periods and avoiding working in enclosed areas with poor ventilation are work arrangements that should be considered. To prevent heat stroke, contractors shall offer potable water, cooling facilities such as shelters, ventilation at workplace and cooling devices. Suitable clothing, provision of appropriate personal protective equipment and even reminders to workers to keep their shirts on are effective measures. We can also keep the emergency procedures under review, provide regular training for supervisors and workers in the symptoms of heat stroke to heighten their alertness.

 

As professional engineers, let us take the greatest interest in upholding our responsibilities to maintain health, safety and the environment so as to protect all stakeholders in the industry, especially during such hot weather.

 

This article is contributed by Ir Victor Tse WIng Fung with the coordination of the Safety Specialist Committee.

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