Toiling in a furnace

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 July, 2011, 12:00am


As the city endures one of its hottest summers on record, concerns are growing for the workers who turn developers' billion-dollar dreams into reality whatever the weather.

The Observatory recorded a temperature of 34.5 degrees Celsius on June 9, the highest on record in June since 1980. Mean temperature for the month was 28.6 degrees, 0.7 degrees above the average.

The sweltering heat has taken its toll on citizens. Nine serious cases of heatstroke at work were reported in May and June. On Tuesday, a driver collapsed at the wheel of his non-air-conditioned bus.

At the construction site of the new government building in Tamar, workers say outdoor conditions are more bearable than inside the half-finished building. Interior temperatures are three to four degrees hotter than out in the open.

Chow Luen-kiu, chairman of the Construction Industry Employees General Union, agreed.

'It gets hot, but it gets even hotter working in sealed indoor sites,' Chow said. He added that employers need to provide ventilators at indoor sites. He said he hoped the government would pass a law soon to prohibit construction work when the weather gets too hot. But he admitted that it would be difficult to set limits.

Despite Hong Kong being 'Asia's world city', there is still no law that protects workers from the dangers of toiling in a furnace.

Guidelines have been drawn up to ensure construction sites are safe for workers. Employers are required to provide unlimited drinking water, a shady rest area and fans to keep their workers cool.