Developing a heat stress model for construction workers

Ping Chuen Chan, Chi Ho Michael Yam, Joanne W.Y. Chung, Wen Yi

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – Heat stress, having caused preventable and lamentable deaths, is hazardous to construction workers in the hot and humid summers of Hong Kong. The purpose of this paper is to develop a heat stress model, based on the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) index. Design/methodology/approach – Field studies were conducted during the summer time in Hong Kong (July to September 2010). Based upon 281 sets of synchronized meteorological and physiological data collected from construction workers in four different construction sites between July and September 2010, physiological, work-related, environmental and personal parameters were measured to construct and verify the heat stress model. Findings – It is found that drinking habit, age and work duration are the top three significant predictors to determine construction workers' physiological responses. Other predictors include percentage of body fat, resting heart rate, air pollution index, WBGT, smoking habit, energy consumption, and respiratory exchange rate. The accuracy of the model is verified against data which have not been used in developing the model. The accuracy of the heat stress model is found to be statistically acceptable (Mean Absolute Percentage Error=5.6 percent, Theil's U inequality coefficients=0.003). Practical implications – Based on these findings, appropriate work-rest pattern can be designed to safeguard the well being of workers when working in a hot and humid environment. Originality/value – The model reported in this paper provides a more scientific and reliable prediction of the reality which may benefit the industry to produce solid guidelines for working in hot weather.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-74
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Facilities Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2012


  • Construction industry
  • Health and safety
  • Heat protection
  • Heat stress model
  • Hong Kong
  • Rebar work
  • Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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