Developing a heat stress model for construction workers

Albert P. C. CHAN, Michael C. H. YAM, Wai Yee Joanne CHUNG, Wen YI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-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 article 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 has 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%, 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. Copyright © 2012 Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-74
JournalJournal of Facilities Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


Chan, A. P. C., Yam, M. C. H., Chung, J. W. Y., & Yi, W. (2012). Developing a heat stress model for construction workers. Journal of Facilities Management, 10(1), 59-74.


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


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