Home Health Employers Told to Protect Workers from Scorching Temperature – HK Labour Department

Employers Told to Protect Workers from Scorching Temperature – HK Labour Department

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With scorching summer temperatures upon us, the Hong Kong Labour Department (LD) is reminding employers and employees to take precautions against heat-related illness as the Heat Stress at Work Warning goes into effect.

The warning system, based on the Hong Kong Heat Index, outlines three levels – Amber, Red, and Black – to guide employers on necessary safety measures. When the warning is issued, companies must assess heat stress risks for outdoor and non-air-conditioned indoor workplaces and implement protective steps.

“Employers need to reschedule work, provide shade and ventilation, and make sure workers can frequently rest and rehydrate,” said a Labour Department spokesperson. “Employees also have to be vigilant about heat stroke symptoms and take breaks when needed.”

Heat stroke poses a serious threat, especially for manual laborers, as it can rapidly lead to organ failure and even death if untreated. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, nausea, and excessive thirst.

Under the guidelines, companies should aim to give staff rest breaks of at least 10 minutes per hour when the Amber warning is in place, increasing to 20 minutes per hour for Red and 30 minutes per hour for Black. Access to cool, shaded areas and drinking water must also be ensured.

“No one should have to choose between their health and their paycheck,” said worker advocate Sara Li. “These simple precautions can be lifesaving when the temperature soars.”

Authorities are urging both employers and employees to stay alert and act quickly at the first signs of heat-related distress. With climate change driving more extreme weather, protecting workers from the elements has never been more crucial.

The LD issued the “Guidance Notes on Prevention of Heat Stroke at Work”, detailing the various risk factors that should be considered when conducting heat stress risk assessments and recommending corresponding control measures for identified risk factors for employers’ and employees’ reference. For the Heat Stress at Work Warning and related guidelines, please refer to the department’s thematic webpage: www.labour.gov.hk/eng/news/prevention_of_heat_stroke_at_work.htm.