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What can be done to help construction workers beat the heat?

A TODAY report this week on how full-time national servicemen and foreign construction workers have been affected by the recent hot weather has generated heated discussion online, too. Many readers sympathised with the workers’ plight, noting that they were particularly vulnerable to heat injuries, and their employers could do more. 

Migrant workers are seen at a construction site along Ophir Road on May 13, 2022.

Migrant workers are seen at a construction site along Ophir Road on May 13, 2022.

A TODAY report this week on how full-time national servicemen and foreign construction workers have been affected by the spate of hot weather has generated heated discussion online, too. Many readers sympathised with the workers’ plight, noting that they were particularly vulnerable to heat injuries, and their employers could do more. Others offered suggestions on how to help workers beat the heat, such as adjusting their hours so they avoid working during the hottest part of the day.

Have a "siesta" like in some countries. Extend the work period from 7am-7pm but with a three-hour midday break, and provide enough shelter to nap. This lets them digest lunch before strenuous work, and rest during the hottest part of the day. TAN HUI CHU

Don’t you think that it’s more sensible for them to work after sundown till morning? We have all the lights, why work in the day when it is either too hot or raining. Perhaps we should change our perspective with climate change. I feel very sorry for those who have to work in this heat. RICHARD SE

Changing the working hours to “hours of darkness” like night time or early morning will increase the risk of workplace accidents due to unclear vision. It will also increase the cost of building interim lighting and the time needed to complete the construction project. DAVID CHEW

The hot weather has always been a bane for the construction and marine industries, not only in recent years. Perhaps this is why many shun these industries. While it is good to know that safety measures are taken, the reality is we may not be able to do more (to reduce workers' exposure to the sun) due to the cost and time impact if the site progress slows down. KENNETH TAN

There must be a directive to ensure proper hourly taking of workers’ temperature and heart rate outdoors during April to July when the temperature and humidity is high. Hourly temperature and heart rate taking ensures the core body temperature of the worker is monitored, and mitigation can be called upon by the site supervisor before it is too late. It will also be good to have some wearables to track workers’ condition for small projects like roadwork and tree pruning where site supervisors’ presence is not possible. Heat fatigue has early signs which can be spotted easily, but individuals just ignore them for various reasons. YONG TECK LOH

With long hours under the sun and harsh environments, I wonder if more environmentally-appropriate attire could be provided. SC TAN

I thought since the Covid-19 outbreak in dorms, overcrowding has been eased? How come there are still 10-15 migrant workers sharing a room? Now with this heat wave going, they are sweltering during the day yet can’t have proper rest at night. Shouldn’t the number of workers per room be reduced to aid better ventilation for them? THERESA LEE

With this heat, all construction companies need to rest their workers every two hours with lots of water intake so as not to get heat stroke and dehydration. JOHNSON LEE

A migrant construction worker's pay is usually S$450 a month. After food (usually only rice and curry) and other expenses they’ll probably have only S$50 to send home. Even though most employers absorb the cost of bringing them here, some still need to fork out S$6,000-S$8,000 to their agents back home for arrangements to work here. Please show them some respect. After all, they are the ones building our city. Hand them a drink if you can spare one. THOMAS YEE

Without these construction workers, we would not have better roads, buildings and flats we are living in now. They are part of our backbone. DARREL RUSSEL

Don’t forget our delivery riders working hard in the sweltering hot sun too. JAMAL SAMAT

Let's face it, our nation has become like a concrete jungle. With all that high humidity and heat absorbed by concrete we are being slowly cooked. We need more grass patches, and less concrete and human overcrowding. JASMINE GOLD

 

These comments were first posted to TODAY’s Facebook page. They have been edited for clarity, accuracy and length. If you have views on this issue or a news topic you care about, send a letter to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg with your full name, address and phone number.

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migrant worker weather climate change outdoor construction site

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