Employers and employees should take precautions against heat stroke

     As the Hong Kong Observatory has issued the very hot weather warning, the Labour Department reminds employers and employees to take appropriate precautions to prevent heat stroke.

     Senior Occupational Health Officer Dr Woo Wai-man said today (September 30), "Heat stroke can occur if an employee works in a hot or humid environment for prolonged periods of time, as the body may fail to regulate its temperature by effective heat dissipation through sweating.

     "The early symptoms of heat stroke include feeling thirsty, fatigue, nausea and headache. Later, the victim may experience shortness of breath, rapid and weak pulse, dizziness, confusion or even loss of consciousness and convulsion.

     "For example, construction workers, cleaning workers, kitchen workers and porters are more prone to heat stroke when working for long hours in such an environment, especially if appropriate preventive measures have not been taken."

     Dr Woo reminded employers to arrange for a suitable assessment of the risk of heat stress in the work environment and take appropriate preventive measures. The Labour Department has produced two leaflets entitled "Checklist for Heat Stress Assessment at Construction Sites" and "Checklist for Heat Stress Assessment at Outdoor Cleansing Workplaces". Employers engaged in construction or outdoor cleaning work are advised to refer to these checklists in assessing the risk of heat stress at their workplaces. As for heat stress assessment at a workplace in general, employers can refer to a booklet entitled "Risk Assessment for the Prevention of Heat Stroke at Work" produced by the Labour Department.

     Dr Woo also encouraged employers and employees to take the following precautions to prevent heat stroke:


(1) Take heed of the weather report and make arrangements for employees to reduce their exposure to the hot environment during very hot periods as far as possible, such as rotating to cooler worksites within the shift, rescheduling outdoor works to cooler periods in the daytime, or arranging appropriate rest breaks in cooler places for them;
(2) Avoid working under direct sunlight and set up appropriate sunshade or shelter in worksites wherever possible;
(3) Provide an adequate supply of cool potable water for employees at all times during work and encourage employees to drink plenty of water. If necessary, provide drinks containing minerals for employees to replenish loss of electrolytes during profuse sweating;
(4) Provide tools or mechanical aids for workers as far as possible to minimise their physical exertion;
(5) Increase air flow by enhancing ventilation or air-conditioning as appropriate;
(6) Isolate heat-generating facilities at the workplace and use insulating materials to minimise heat dissipation to other work areas; and
(7) Provide information and training for employees on heat stroke such as symptoms of heat stroke, preventive measures and first aid treatment.


(1) 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;
(2) Wear a wide-brimmed hat when working outdoors;
(3) Drink plenty of water or other appropriate beverages to replenish the fluids and electrolytes lost through sweating; and
(4) Whenever there are any symptoms of heat stroke, inform supervisors and take appropriate action immediately.

     Dr Woo added that some employees may have difficulty in adapting to a hot working environment owing to their health condition. Employers should take this into account and consider the recommendations of their doctors when assigning work to these employees.

     In addition to the publications on risk assessment, the Labour Department has produced a leaflet entitled "Prevention of Heat Stroke at Work in a Hot Environment" for the public. These publications can be obtained free of charge from the offices of the Occupational Health Service of the Labour Department, or downloaded from the department's webpage at www.labour.gov.hk/eng/public/content2_9.htm. Members of the public may also refer to the press releases of the Department of Health on precautions against heat stroke under hot weather (www.chp.gov.hk/en/media/14/116.html).

    The Labour Department also provides an outreach health education service and occupational health nurses will, on invitation, disseminate occupational health information at workplaces at a convenient time. Please contact the nursing officer at 2852 4062 for details. All these health talks are free of charge.

Ends/Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Issued at HKT 14:47