Employers urged to adjust shifts amid hot weather

This will reduce the risk of heat stroke and sunburn among staff

Employers urged to adjust shifts amid hot weather

Hong Kong employers are urged to make necessary shift arrangements to reduce the risk of heat stroke among staff after the Hong Kong Observatory issued a Very Hot Weather Warning in the financial hub.

"Take heed of the weather report and adopt shift work arrangements for employees to reduce their exposure to the hot environment or arrange appropriate rest breaks for them during very hot periods," said Hong Kong's Labour Department on Monday.

The department said that heat stroke could occur if an employee is exposed to hot or humid environment for an extended period, where they may experience fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and loss of consciousness in severe cases.

In particular, the Labour Department said construction workers, cleaning workers, kitchen workers, and porters are more prone to heat stroke especially if preventive measures are not implemented properly.

In addition to make staff work at different times, the department also advised employers to take the following precautions to protect staff:

  • Always provide cool potable water for employees during work. If necessary, provide drinks containing electrolytes for employees to replenish loss of salt during profuse sweating.
  • Minimise physical demands by using tools or mechanical aids at work.
  • Increase air flow by enhancing ventilation or air-conditioning as appropriate.
  • Isolate heat-generating facilities at the workplace and use insulating materials to minimise heat dissipation to the other work areas.
  • Provide relevant information and training for employees on heat stroke such as preventive measures and first aid treatment.

In addition, employees should also be given a covered space with good ventilation where they can rest and have their meals. Employers should also keep in mind doctors' recommendations for employees with health conditions when assigning them work - especially if their situation makes it difficult for them to adjust to hot working environments.

Read more: Hong Kong's unemployment rate spikes to 5.4%

Meanwhile, employees are also encouraged to take the following precautions to keep themselves safe:

  • Wear clothing made of suitable materials (for example, cotton) that is loose-fitting and light-coloured to help heat dissipation, minimise heat absorption and allow sweat evaporation.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat when working outdoors.
  • Drink plenty of water or appropriate beverages with electrolytes to replenish fluids and salt lost through sweating.
  • Whenever there are any symptoms of heat-related illnesses, rest in a cool or shady place and drink water, and then inform supervisors to take appropriate action immediately.

The Labour Department said employers may refer to its publications when assessing employees' risk of heat stress at workplaces. They also have occupational health talks in public spaces to raise awareness of occupational health.

The reminder came after the Hong Kong Observatory issued a Very Hot Weather Warning across the financial hub, prompting reminders from Centre for Health Protection and Department of Health to take necessary measures against heat stroke and sunburn during the hot weather.

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