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CSE377 Occupational Health and Hygiene Individual Report

Ngai Leung On 16031986D

In attempt to optimize the land uses within PolyU campus and provide extra
communal student facilities, PolyU has been launched a redevelopment plan for the Block X
area reconstructing as a low rise building. According to the PolyU annual report (The Hong
Kong Polytechnic University, 2015), the construction activities have been processing and
finished at the middle of 2017.Until now, various working activities, including hoisting, bar
bending, timber formwork and welding, are being undergone in the construction site. These
tasks definitely have their own potential hazards that cause injuries to people, especially who
are working inside the site. For hoisting, a tower crane is responsible for lifting up heavy
materials from one place to another. Once if the materials fall, it must be a disaster to
everyone. For bar bending and timber formwork, the extremely hot weather poses threaten in
the workers lives. For welding, overexposing to chemicals and chemical explosion can also
leads to severe health issues and accidents too. Therefore, the following paragraphs are going
to get deeply into the recognition, evaluation and control of hazards one by one based on their
properties, such as physical, chemical and safety.
When it comes to the physical hazard, the most predominant and less concerned issue
is about the extremely hot working condition in summer resulting in heat stroke.
From June to August,2016, there were already 5 fatal cases recorded in Hong Kong
(H.K.) (Apple Daily, 2016). In case of evaluation, the overheat load of workers could be
attributed to two main factors such as the environmental and physical work factors. As
reported by the Hong Kong Observatory, "Very Hot Weather Warning was recorded 4 days
in September 2016 due to influence of the tropical cyclones over H.K(HKO, 2016). Working
continuously under the sign, the workers got no choice but to comply with the schedule as
long as they were facing with a maximum temperature at around 33oC to 34oC(HKO, 2016)
and direct sunlight. In fact, bar benders showed much tolerance towards a higher temperature
in around 40oC as the iron bars were capable of absorbing the heat from sunlight and emitting
heats back to workers via conduction and radiation. Also, the more physical works they did,
the more metabolic heat they would generate out. Looking into the heat sources, it is
understandable why the workers are easily suffering from the heat stroke.
Based on the survey conducted by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, nearly
28% of workers used to get heat stroke in summer and they could clearly mention the
symptoms related to heat stroke, for instance, the rapid heart rate, confusion and nausea.
(HKCTU, 2012) Even through the workers are considered to be acclimatized to the hot
weather, there is no reason to make excuse to do nothing in improving the poor situation.

CSE377 Occupational Health and Hygiene Individual Report

Ngai Leung On 16031986D

Eliminating the fatal cases to zero, administrative control should be at the top of
agenda. Firstly, providing sufficient cool drinking water supply or sports drinks near the
working regions is of utmost importance for workers to replenish the water and minerals loss
due to the sweating. This allows workers to remove the heat via the sweating in order to
maintain the body temperatures equilibrium. Secondly, a distinct resting standard is highly
recommended in accordance with a scientific research. Changing from taking 30 minutes
break after 1500 one day, the standard suggested taking two breaks one day, including 15
minutes after 10:00 and 20 minutes after 14:55. The splitting resting periods help workers to
recover at least 78%-84% from the hot stress and maximize the whole days working
efficiency to maintain a favorable work-rest balance. (Department of Building & Real Estate,
PolyU, 2012)
In terms of chemical hazards, figure (a) showed that a worker carried out gas welding
without wearing safety mask and long-sleeved clothes. In addition, the sparks generated by
welding flow off to the dry leaves, thin wood board and hemp rope left on the floor.
For a long time, the worker would no longer suffer from structural damage and health
hazards. Firstly, if the sparks flow into the eyes, corneal ulcer and conjunctivitis would
probably have occurred. Whats worse, exposing to a certain level of radiation, including
ultraviolet and infra-red radiation, gave rise to visual disability and reddening. Besides, not
only the sparks but also toxic fume mixed with different kinds of metal oxides was suspended
into air. The size of particles in mixture was measured as less than 1 micrometer in which it
was tiny enough to enter into alveolar region in lungs where gas exchange took place there.
Different concentration and types of chemical substance can eventually cause chronic and
acute poisoning respectively. Apart from inhaling, skin absorption was also one of the routes
to let the skin become irritated. (Labour Department, 2000)
Furthermore, the dry leaves could easily catch fire under a hot and dry condition. If
the fire went out of control and spread to gas containers for welding, an explosion would
occur and take away hundreds of lives from the campus.
To minimize the chemical hazards, several proper safety measure can be undergone.
In order to prevent the workers from absorbing fume, safety masks and long sleeved clothing
act as a barrier to block the entry from breathing and direct contact.
Firstly, the skillful workers should understand how danger when they misuse the
chemicals. After knowing the consequence, a full-set personal protective equipment, such as
protective clothing, face protective marks and respiratory device, can act as a barrier in order
to prevent workers from breathing and direct contact. Furthermore, improving the ventilation
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CSE377 Occupational Health and Hygiene Individual Report

Ngai Leung On 16031986D

systems can stop the toxic fume or particles from accumulation and help discharge to outside
so that the workers can breathe in fresh air, instead of exhausted gases. Finally, good
housekeeping ought to be carried out so that no sparks is near to the flammable objects or
chemicals.
In safety aspect, the importance of safety has been entirely neglected. As stated in
Occupational Safety and Health Statistics 2015, the accidents about falling from height were
the common occurrence in construction industry. About 1212 cases consisting of 16 fatal
cases had been recorded in file.(Labour Department, 2015) From the figure (b), although a
worker located in the upper level wore safety belt, the safety buckle was not fixed at a point
in which it could be easily loosen as a result of moving along the edge of bar. If the worker
fell to the ground, the belt would probably lose its function as there was no fixed point for it
to withstand an adults weight. On the other hand, a competent examiner who was responsible
for operating a tower crane for lifting up the iron bars and timbers from the ground to
working platform, while a worker on the platform gave a signal to operator for landing. From
the figure (c), a worker was standing on an unstable surface formed by unfixed timbers. If the
tower crane moved towards the worker, the material held by the rope could easily push the
worker and then he would fall to the ground.
As stated in OSH Statistics 2015, the accidents related to stacking by the falling
object were doubled, compared with 2014s. About 445 cases consisting of 5 fatal cases had
been recorded in file. (Labour Department, 2015) From the figure (d), the circled region
showed that a large region of hole was found from the green safety net. Without a tight
closure, the gap allowed everything such as concrete or brick to pass through it. These falling
hard objects could easily break down the safety helmet after crushing resulting in brain
concussion and even permanent brain damage.
To conclude, numerous indisputable mistakes and possible hazards had been made
and underestimated respectively. To put accidents under control, safety officers play an
important role in tackling down the hazards and convicting the workers to do their job under
regulation. As mentioned above, all hazards are preventable as long as all control of
measurements are proposed, for instance, introducing regular safety inspection and
committee meetings enhance the workers safety awareness by pointing out the mistakes or
potential hazards. Taking accident investigation is of paramount significance to prevent the
hazards to occur in site again. At last but not least, when employers and employees are
willing to pay more attention to the safety and obey the role seriously, it is believed that this
site would be the safest one in Hong Kong.
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CSE377 Occupational Health and Hygiene Individual Report

Ngai Leung On 16031986D

Photos:

Figure (a)

Figure (b)

Figure (c)

Figure (d)

CSE377 Occupational Health and Hygiene Individual Report

Ngai Leung On 16031986D

Reference:
1. Cheung, P.S. & Li, K.K. (2016, August 8). Workers from construction site of Shatin to
Central Link died because of heat stroke. 3 same cases happened in successive month.
Apple Daily.
Retrieved from http://hk.apple.nextmedia.com/news/art/20160808/19727267
2. Occupational Safety and Health Branch, Labour Department. (2000, June). Code of
Practice Safety and Health at Work for Gas Welding and Flame Cutting.
Retrieved from http://www.labour.gov.hk/eng/public/os/B/welding2.pdf
3. Occupational Safety and Health Branch, Labour Department. (2016). Occupational Safety
and Health Statistics 2015. Hong Kong.
Retrieved from http://www.labour.gov.hk/eng/osh/pdf/OSH_Statistics_2015_EN.pdf
4. The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions. (2012, July 18). Nearly 30% of
construction workers are facing danger under a hot weather. The Union fight for a
series of protection for safety.
Retrieved from http://www.hkctu.org.hk/cms/article.jsp?article_id=803&cat_id=8
5. The Hong Kong Observatory. (2016, October 4). The Weather of September 2016.
Retrieved from http://www.hko.gov.hk/wxinfo/pastwx/mws2016/mws201609.htm
6. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. (2015). PolyU Annual Report 2014/2015. Hong
Kong.
Retrieved from https://www.polyu.edu.hk/cpa/AnnReport/ar1415/pdf/118.pdf
7. Yi W. & Chan P.C. (2012). Optimizing work-rest schedule for construction rebar workers
in hot and humid environment. Building and Environment 61 (2013) 104e113.
Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360132312003344