Study sheds light on prevention of heat stroke for outdoor workers

Jun 18, 2012 By Regina Yu

A pioneering study by researchers of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has shed light on the prevention of heat stroke for outdoor workers in a scientific manner. One of the major recommendations is to link up the Very Hot Weather Signal issued by the Hong Kong Observatory with additional breaks for outdoor workers on stuffy work days.

The study has brought together the expertise of PolyU’s Department of Building and Real Estate (BRE), The Hong Kong Institute of Education and the Technological and Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong; with Professor Albert Chan of BRE leading the inter-disciplinary team made up of construction health and safety, exercise physiology, health science, and building science experts. It was based on a number of clinical and field studies to determine the best recovery time for steelworkers who have worked to exhaustion in a hot and humid environment at construction sites.

Based on 411 sets of meteorological and physiological data collected over 19 hot and humid days in last summer, researchers have developed a sophisticated model to compute the optimal recovery time. It was found that on average, a steelworker could achieve 58 per cent recovery in five minutes, 78 per cent in 15 minutes and 92 per cent in 30 minutes. The longer they have the resting period, the better the recovery of their strength. The various stakeholders, including the government, developers, contractors, trade union representatives can negotiate and agree amongst themselves how often rest time should be given between works and how long each break should last based on the objective and scientific findings of the study.

According to the study, heat stress is determined by ten critical factors. Drinking habit, age and work duration are the top three factors to determine steelworkers’ physiological responses. Other factors include air pollution index, percentage of body fat, smoking habit, Wet Bulb Globe Temperature Index (measured primarily by temperature and relative humidity), respiratory exchange rate, resting heart rate, and energy consumption.

Professor Albert Chan also advised site workers not to consume any alcoholic drink during lunch time as it will lead to dehydration and make the workers prone to heat stress. In the next stage, Professor Chan and his team will study anti-heat stress clothing for workers.

The joint study was supported by General Research Funding of the Research Grants Council. It was also supported by the Hong Kong Housing Authority, Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd., Yau Lee Construction Co Ltd., and China State Construction Engineering (HK) Ltd.

The research finding was published in Building and Environment, an authoritative international journal of building science and its applications.

Explore further: Voice, image give clues in hunt for Foley's killer

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hong Kong's e-economy booming: Google

May 05, 2011

The Internet is expected to contribute around $18.8 billion -- 7.2 percent of the total -- to Hong Kong's economy by 2015, driven by a surge in mobile use and online shopping, a report for Google said.

Innovative use of solar energy

Oct 27, 2010

Working in collaboration with industry partners, researchers of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) have successfully developed a Solar-powered Air-conditioning System for vehicles and completed a series of testing ...

Recommended for you

Voice, image give clues in hunt for Foley's killer

Aug 21, 2014

Police and intelligence services are using image analysis and voice-recognition software, studying social media postings and seeking human tips as they scramble to identify the militant recorded on a video ...

Smartphone-loss anxiety disorder

Aug 21, 2014

The smart phone has changed our behavior, sometimes for the better as we are now able to connect and engage with many more people than ever before, sometimes for the worse in that we may have become over-reliant on the connectivity ...

Why conspiracy theorists won't give up on MH17 and MH370

Aug 20, 2014

A huge criminal investigation is underway in the Netherlands, following the downing of flight MH17. Ten Dutch prosecutors and 200 policemen are involved in collecting evidence to present at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. The inv ...

Here's how you find out who shot down MH17

Aug 20, 2014

More than a month has passed since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed with the loss of all 298 lives on board. But despite the disturbances at the crash site near the small town of Grabovo, near Donetsk ...

Assange talks of leaving embassy, sowing confusion

Aug 18, 2014

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sowed confusion Monday with an announcement that appeared to indicate he was leaving his embassy bolt hole, but his spokesman later clarified that that would not happen unless ...

User comments : 0