The role of construction work uniform in combating body heat strain : a case study in Hong Kong

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The role of construction work uniform in combating body heat strain : a case study in Hong Kong

 

Author: Yang, Yang
Title: The role of construction work uniform in combating body heat strain : a case study in Hong Kong
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2015
Subject: Heatstroke -- Prevention.
Construction workers -- Health and hygiene.
Construction industry -- Safety measures.
Construction workers -- China -- Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Building and Real Estate
Pages: xvii, 208 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2837626
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/8411
Abstract: Construction workers in Hong Kong are subjected to heat stress because of the irreversible hot weather, strenuous physical work, and prolonged work duration under direct sunlight. A series of guidelines and practice notes that safeguard laborers working in hot weather have been promulgated and implemented. However, these precautionary measures are commonly derived from well-recognized international standards; thus, lacking theoretical and empirical evidences in relation to the specificities of the region, meteorology, and population. Consequently, the effectiveness and practicality of these guidelines remain vague, which may lead to improper and inefficient implementation of these control measures and even unwise safety investment. In this respect, re-engineering appropriate heat stress prevention strategies are urgently necessary. Wearing appropriate summer clothes is one of heat stress control measures suggested by the local industrial guidelines. Nevertheless, research on the effectiveness and practicality of such work clothes in combating heat strain has received little attention to date. Consequently, the criteria of appropriate clothing remain ambiguous and lack a definite justification. To bridge this research gap and to solve a practical problem, the research team of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University designed and engineered an anti-heat stress work uniform with comprehensive consideration of fabric properties and smart clothing design. This initiative requires further assessment on the benefits of wearing this work uniform to combat body heat strain.
The present study aims to facilitate heat stress intervention development research in construction. The major objectives are to set a research framework for intervention development research, to assess the benefits of wearing the anti-heat stress uniform on combating heat strain, and to provide recommendations on formulating precautionary measures against heat stress. Based on a well-established research framework, the efficacy, effectiveness, and acceptability of the anti-heat stress uniform and a commercially available trade uniform are examined through a randomized control trial in the laboratory experiment, a randomized control trial in the field experiment, and in a field survey, respectively. The key findings of the laboratory experiment indicate that the anti-heat stress uniform could significantly alleviate thermo-physiological and perceptual strain at certain time of exercise and post-exercise recovery periods. The results of the field experiment reveal that perceived heat strain of construction workers across four trades is significantly alleviated, as evidenced by the significant interaction effect between clothing type and work trade. Furthermore, overwhelming support for the anti-heat stress uniform has been obtained from 189 construction workers in the field surveys, as proven by the pleasant subjective sensations on this uniform.The current study presents a fresh perspective on the further improvement of heat stress intervention development research in construction. It contributes holistic research strategies and credible research findings that can enable both researchers and practitioners to improve work practices through developing an industry standard. Moreover, this study heightens awareness of the importance and value of conducting heat stress intervention research prior to formulating solid guidelines and fosters better communication and collaboration between academics and practitioners. These impacts stimulate and nurture the growth of the promising heat stress intervention research area.

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