New laws needed to protect workers from scorching weather, unionists urge

Unionists in Hong Kong are calling on the government to introduce new laws to protect workers who work when the very hot weather warning signal is in effect.

Lam Shuk-yee, Chairman of the HKFTU Occupational Safety and Health Association, explained that many workers must endure extremely hot temperatures for long periods of time and face the risk of suffering heatstroke.

She added that Hong Kong’s measures to protect workers from heatstroke are inadequate as they are labeled as “recommended guidelines” and are not mandatory.

Lam recommended the government establish clear rest periods for workers when the very hot weather warning signal is in effect, and employers should provide workers with adequate heat stroke prevention equipment, including areas with shade to rest, water, hats, sun protection sleeves, and towels.

She said that employers should also halt their operations during extremely hot temperatures.

“Additionally, employers should conduct risk assessments for outdoor work if hot weather is expected and make changes to indoor non-ventilated and closed spaces, including engine rooms without air conditioning and ship warehouses.

“Such measures can safeguard workers’ health from the hot temperatures,” said Lam.