Construction workers heat related illness
2 The main aim of the research 2 1. 3 Objectives 3 2. 0 Literature review 3 2. 1 Introduction 3 2. 2 The factors contributing to the heat-related illness to construction workers. 2 qualitative research. 3 Study results 19 3. 4 Possible ethics and risks 22 4. 0 Conclusion 23 5. 0 References 25 6. 4: Possible ethics and risks 22 List of Graphs Graph 2. 1: The workplace deaths over the years in Singapore 8 Graph 2. 2: Acclimatization of workers in training. 0 Introduction to the research topic Singapore construction workers are at high risks of heat stress since many of these workers are working under the hot and sometimes weather that is always humid. They work for long hours in thermal environments that are not conducive to their health. The consequences of heat stress include; heat rashes or cramps, stroke or exhaustion. Similarly, heat can also increase the worker's risks to injuries as it may result in dizziness and sweating.
The workers likely to be affected by heat illness include those working in hot environments like factory workers, construction workers or all those working in their outdoor activities. Preventive step is urgently required to reduce this risk for productivity of workers in the construction firms suffering from such conditions to curb the heat stresses. The workers are under the Workplace Safety and Health Council (WSHC) that ensures that the measures are taken so as to reduce the risk of heat stress among the construction workers. 1 Introduction Singapore is towards the north of the equator with its climate that is characterized by consistent temperature and pressure, high relative humidity and high rainfall. As a result, Singapore is at most times warm and wet.
Singapore is very hot in the month April followed by May. The average temperature ranges between 250C and 310C. The relative humidity ranges between 70% to 80% with January being the coolest month and November the wettest month. (Bogerd and Daanen). NIOSH reviewed the scientific data on the heat stress and hot environment and proposed the criteria for the recommended standards for the heat index and risk level and suggested preventive measures to be taken as shown by table 2. 1 Table 2. 1: NIOSH National weather service Research has been carried out on the effects and performance of workers exposed to heat. However, less information is available on the long-term effect of exposure on the heat towards the health of these workers. Nature and type of work factors 2.
1 Personal risk factors These workers originate from different countries which some of them are colder than Singapore. Therefore, their bodies have to adjust to the Singapore hot environment. The severity of heat gain for a given level of heat stress experienced by an individual worker depends on physiological ability to respond to exposure. Therefore, the individual may reduce the heat tolerance through his own personal risk factors. The human body is able to maintain heat balance through adjustment of heat mechanisms like evaporation of sweat, convection and radiation. The factors that influence thermal comfort personally and environmentally includes; air temperature, wind speed relation humidity, demands from work and insulation due to clothing. The effect of external exposure on heat and internal metabolic production of heat combined can produce thermal stress.
Then the body will respond to stress by sweating, elevated temperature and increased heart rate producing heat strain. Therefore, the absence of adequate heat dissipation, extremely high heat exposure causes the body temperature to rise resulting in heat illness. Extremely elevated heat can be unconducive in regions that are low e. g. depressions and valleys. • Relative humidity. When humidity is very high, the sweat is slow to evaporate on the skin slowing the body’s natural process to release heat in the surrounding hence the body start overheating. The type of protective clothing worn by the employees also determines their risk of illness related to heat. It ranges from hard hats, boots or gloves to suits to protect from chemical attack.
Wearing the protective clothes that are impermeable to cover the body will limit the movement of air and sweating cooling. This results in the reduced heat release to the environment by the body hence the increased loading on the body. Similarly, wearing dark coloured clothing or those tight clothes also increases the heat illness risk. It showed that construction workers suffered most from severe heat strain due to the physically demanding work they do and their conditions of living. Therefore, preventive measures should be taken to reduce these heat-related symptoms. These measures may include, temporally resting tents, ventilation and automatic machines to cool drinks. In addition, self-adjustment of work rate also reduces the risk of heat-related illness and injury. 3 Syndromes that relate to heat illness.
It is characterized by the body sweating heavily and overheating. It results from lengthy exposure to high temperatures and high humidity when performing a strenuous activity. It is more common and extremely less manifestation of illness that is related to heat in which the core temperatures range from 370C to 400C. Heat stroke. It is characterized by high temperature above 400C. For example, at high temperatures, the body muscles get impaired and is less severe to impairment of brain tissue at the same temperature. A previous study in Singapore on heat disorders monograph especially in the military population that was published by the ministry of health provides a broad update on epidemiology, pathophysiology, management and ways to prevent heart disorders. The main aim is to increase awareness among the doctors of the existence of this condition for easy handling of this serious menace when it emerges (Lim 719-724.
Bogerd and Daanen argued that heat exposure was associated with increased risk or delayed conception. They also pointed that workers spermatozoa have a likelihood of abnormalities when exposed to temperatures that are above the normal. Among the heat stress indices developed are the wet bulb globe temperature and heat stress index. The heat stress index is shown in table 2. Table 2. 2: Heat stress index HEAT STRESS INDEX Danger category Apparent temperature Heat syndrome Extreme danger Greater than 130ºF Heatstroke or sunstroke imminent Danger 410C – 540C Sunstroke, heat cramps, or heat exhaustion likely. Heat stroke possible with pronged exposure and physical activity Extreme caution 320C – 410C Sunstroke, heat cramps and heat exhaustion possible with prolonged exposure and physical activity Caution 270C - 320C Fatigue possible with prolonged exposure and physical activity Table 2.
In the period of acclimatization, there should be close supervision of the workers and given the opportunity to have more resting breaks and longer acclimatization periods if need be. They should be closely monitored for heat stroke symptoms and have to constantly report to the supervisors the strange experiences in the field or when unwell. Graph 2. 2 presents the influence of temperature and relative humidity on workers acclimatization during training in hot weather. Graph 2. The clothing suitable in a hot environment for workers in the construction site should be loose and light coloured. Training and reporting of workers. Education on the dangers of heat-related disorders is necessary and the workers at the constructions sites should be encouraged to report any matter of sickness immediately to their supervisors.
They should also be advised to complete the Construction Safety Course before they start any work. They should work as a team and watch out their fellow’s symptoms of heat stroke. However, a significant part of the research focused on the qualitative study methodology to help understand the beliefs, valuable intangibles and values. The combination of both the qualitative and the quantitative research methods helped be triangulate sets of findings and support the arguments based on the data collected. A quantitative questionnaire, for example, can be backed up by qualitative information followed by a deeper research. Qualitative research methods Interviews In my research, interviews were a way of data collection that enabled me to come to a face to face proximity with my interviewees.
This process involves a series of decisions that the researcher has an obligation to consider. The problem with these types of questions is that it becomes hard to quantify the results obtained. It will take you a lot of time and work before you can read through all those comments and also categorizes them according to their diversity, whereby you will later need to make general comments out of them. When using interviews as your method of gathering information, there are certain steps that you may need to consider. First, you need to identify your sample. Then, come up with a set of questions appropriate enough to lead you to the answers that you need to find. Furthermore, a case study ventures at providing a way of understanding a significant research problem which brings more clarity.
In a case study can be used to examine a single subject of analysis but in some cases, they can be aimed at conducting a comparative investigation to show a relationship that exists amongst more than one subject. The process of identifying which case study to investigate is to be differentiated from identifying the problem of the study. In my research, the study conducted focused on an in-depth analysis, interpretation, as well as discussions that were aimed at coming up with recommendations for the actions to be taken, in an attempt to improve the existing conditions. A case may rely on the results of research conducted prior to the problem at hand. This method shares some similarities with the interview method.
This is because you can also issue closed or open questions for the participants to fill. One of the problems or weakness associated with this method of collecting data is that the participants may poorly fill the questionnaire due to the poorly presented questions. For instance, the participants may end up ticking the boxes of the questionnaires following the same pattern. Setting up a questionnaire requires the researcher to seek an expert’s guidance and advice. • Confirm that the questions have been clearly developed a well as a clear way to score them. • Eradicate confusion in the questions and also ensure that they do not give any clues. • The questionnaire should be coded for future analysis. • Obtain permission to use the developed questionnaire.
• Hand the questionnaires out. I observed that some individuals working under these harsh conditions were not interested in talking about the situations at all. I had to make assumptions when it came to such situations. Even so, 70% of the construction workers with whom I managed to interview revealed to be aware of these conditions and therefore were fortunate enough to take precautions. The other 30% percent of the individuals were either suffering the illness, or their friends said that they had died from the illness. Based on the data collected and analysed, the workers who had suffered the illness and died were lesser than those who were currently suffering. As mentioned earlier, the disease is classified into three categories. However, heat/sun stroke revealed to be the leading killer amongst the three categories in both men and women.
It was noted that the treatment and prevention measures for these diseases differed in terms of expense. Heat stroke was leading to its cost of treatment and prevention and that’s presumably why the diseases have been dominant amongst the construction workers. Heat cramps and heat exhaustion followed respectively in terms of hazardousness. This is a disastrous disease that can lead the slowed economic growth of a nation if not handled with the seriousness it deserves 3. 4 Possible ethics and risks The research will be conducted through questionnaires and interviews of the construction workers from sampled construction sites in Singapore from April and May bearing in mind that they are the two hottest months in Singapore therefore positive results will be anticipated.
Heat stress illness are common hence pose a lot of risks to those construction workers in Singapore The participants will be required to fill a simple risk assessment on their exposure to heat illness and injuries in the workplace so that potential sources of risks and their connection with various types of works is determined. Researchers are sometimes faced with conflict since the participants can be hostile as well health related risks due to hot environments. Table 3. 0 Conclusion In this research, it is clearly shown that the workers in the construction industry are at a risk of heat stresses in their places of work. This heat stress is invisible to the employees and has been overlooked for some time. It has not been considered as a priority in the prevention of occupational health in a country due to a fewer number of heat-related illness that is normally recorded compared to other related occupation illness.
Recently the global average temperature and other hot weather events have accelerated recognition of the occupational heat exposure illness. The workers and hygienists are much concerned about the impacts of heat exposure that relate to changing the weather. 0 References Anon, (2017). [online] Available at:https://www. wshc. sg/files/wshc/. /Heat_stress_guidelines_first_revision_2012. and Tomasz, C. Effects of Ambient Temperature on Physiological Responses to Incremental Exercise Test. Journal of Human Kinetics, 26, pp. Bogerd, C. P. and Knochel, J. P. Heat stroke. New England Journal of Medicine, 346(25), pp. Hunt, P. E. Heat illness. Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps, 151(4), pp. (Hse. gov. Occupational heat stress. Annals of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore, 23(5), pp. Lundgren, K. , Kuklane, K. , Gao, C. , Strange, S.
, Christensen, N. J. , Warberg, J. and Saltin, B. , Pisaniello, D. and Hansen, A. Health impacts of workplace heat exposure: an epidemiological review. Industrial health, 52(2), pp. Xiang, J. Name of the risk assessor Muhammed Azry Tay Date of assessment 5th March 2018 Job being assessed Construction rebar works Location of assessment Singapore Name of employee being assessed Siva Kumar Ramachandran Personal status of employee Employees age 36 Is the employee male or female Male Is the employee acclimatized? Yes Employee seemed to have adopted the Singapore environment and withstand heat conditions for a significant period of time Is the employee experienced in the job? Yes Is the employee experienced in working in the heat? Yes Has the employee been trained to work in the heat? Yes Please provide a brief description of the work being performed: To coordinate and ensure successful implementation of all the construction works at the site How many employees are involved in this task? 10 Where was the assessment conducted? The assessment was conducted in a building construction site where the employee was to undertake tasks of 8 hours in a day in a hot environment.
How long does the work physically take? In a typical shift (excluding breaks) How long will this task take place? Daily Is refresher training given to employee? Yes If yes how often? Once in a week What were the external climatic conditions? Air temperature Radiant temperature Relative humidity Hazard identification Name of the risk assessment Azry Tay Date of assessment 5th March 2018 Job being assessed Construction Civil and Structure Work Location of assessment Singapore Name of employee being assessed Chang chao This observational checklist helps identify potential heat stress hazards. If you observe any of the hazards described, tick the box to the right of that description. If you identify a heat stress hazards not listed, describe the hazard in the “Other” box, and tick the appropriate answer.
Consideration Description Tick Air temperature • Does the air feel warm or hot? ✔ Radiant temperature • Is there a radiant heat source present e. This will provide you with an estimated risk score for that parameter. You may tick more than one box if the environment is changing, or if the employee is moving between environments. • If you do not see a description that best fits the work situation you are assessing or are unsure then tick “Don’t Know” box at the bottom of that table. This introduces an uncertainty into the assessment and requires that you conduct a more detailed qualitative assessment. Air Temperature What is air temperature and what should you look out for? • Air temperature is described as the temperature of the air surrounding an employee.
• Employees feel hot when they stand near the heat source. 2 ✓ • The heat source surface is very hot to the touch and may burn the skin. Employees cannot work in close proximity to the heat source for more than 10 minutes without wearing PPE. 3 ✓ • Contact with the heat source will cause burning. • Employees cannot work in close proximity to the heat source for more than 5 minutes without wearing PPE. • Things to look out for are wind sources; the presence of fans to reduce the temperature (e. g. during specialist maintenance work?); employees feeling hot or warm air blowing on any exposed skin or is the moving air cooler or warmer than the ambient air temperature. Subjective description of air velocity Score Tick • Cold air at a high speed (e.
g. asbestos, chemical protection suits etc) the humidity within the microclimate of the garment may be high. • Humidity is very difficult to estimate. Profuse sweating may be an indication of high humidity, but it may also be an indication of a high physical activity. • Things to looks out for are is the environment susceptible to outdoor conditions, especially in summer? Are there any dryers or other machines producing steam? Do workers complain about the humidity? Are they wearing vapour impermeable PPE? Subjective description of air velocity Score Tick • No humidity. Air is dry, with no drying processes or other mechanisms for increasing the humidity in the workplace. Where employers wear or remove clothing depending on the job or task, it may be necessary to conduct a quantitative heat stress risk assessment.
• Additional information may be obtained by contacting the manufacturer or supplier of the PPE for further advice. Subjective descriptions of clothing Score Tick • Shorts and a T-shirt. No protective or work clothing worn • Light work clothing • Cotton coverall, jacket • Winter work clothing, double cloth coveralls, water barrier materials. • Lightweight vapour barrier suits • Fully enclosed suit with hood and gloves. Low • Sitting or standing to control machines • Light handwork (writing, drafting, sewing, bookkeeping, drafting etc). Hand and arm work (small bench work, using tools such as table saws; drills, inspecting, assembling or sorting light materials, operating control panels, turning low torque hand wheels, very light assembly operating etc). • Standing with light work at machine or bench while using mostly arms (drill press, milling machine, coil tapping, small armature winding, a machine with light power tools, inspecting or monitoring hot processes).
• Arm and legwork (driving a car, operating foot pedals or switches). • Walking in easily accessible areas (can walk upright). • Heavy manual handling and lifting (e. g. laying concrete block and clearing heavy debris (e. g. cleaning and relining reactor vessels)). As the scores increase (also shown by colour shading from light red to dark red) so the risk of that parameter contributing to heat stress increases. If three or more of your scores are greater than 1, there may be a risk of heat stress. If you score greater than 5, then in these situations, physiological monitoring may be required. If you are not competent in measuring, analysing and interpreting physiological measurements you should now seek expert advice. Scores -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 Don’t know Air temperature Radiant heat Air velocity Humidity Clothing Metabolic rate 6.
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