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Published: Tuesday June 25, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday June 25, 2013 MYT 11:29:39 AM

Construction workers in a daze over haze

PETALING JAYA: Construction worker, Charles, 34, has built roads and highways under harsh conditions. Yet, the haze here is proving to be worse than any condition he has encountered.

“These few days, I’ve been having real problems breathing and seeing. This is the worst for me,” said Charles, whose eyes were obscured with protective goggles and his face mask is blackened with soot from the smog that reached unhealthy levels in the city.

Charles, the leader among the 250 foreign workers at the Mass Rapid Transit construction site in Damansara, said his men had been complaining of asthma, shortness of breath, eye sores and itchy skin.

“Despite the conditions, the proj­­ect has to go on as the dry weather is good for construction,” he said.

Mass Rapid Transit Corporation (MRT Corp) Sdn Bhd strategic communications and public relations director Amir Mahmood Razak said it was monitoring the situation very closely alongside its project delivery partner (PDP) MMC Gamuda KVMRT.

He said they had directed contractors to remind workers to drink plenty of liquids.

Sunway Construction Sdn Bhd safety, health and environmental supervisor G. Krishnan, 29, said the company had taken extreme measures to ensure the health of its employees who had to work long hours while exposed to the poor air quality.

“We are providing them with face masks, goggles and medicine, besides advising them to drink plenty of water.

“Our management, after a discussion, said it would issue a stop-work order should the situation become critical,” said Krishnan, who hoped the air condition would improve.

At the Kerinchi Link, SPRINT security guard Osama Lincann, 48, brought a few face masks from home after being pestered by his wife.

“I’ve been having a fever these last few days. She said it’s because I have to sit out here.

“So, she bought some masks and insisted I must never take it off,” he said.

In Kuala Lumpur, construction worker Mohammed Amin, 26 from Medan, Indonesia, said his managers did not provide face masks.

“I’m using my shirt as a mask but is that enough? Looking at the smog is quite depressing,” he said.

Meanwhile, National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said corporations should take steps to reduce the impact of the haze on their workers’ health.

“Employers should call off or reduce outdoor work or make sure workers are equipped with respirators if they have to do the job.

“They should also give more flexibility to workers suffering from chronic illnesses like asthma or with heart disease if the haze reaches hazardous levels.

Meanwhile, Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd, which operates the LRT and bus systems, is providing face masks to all its frontliners at LRT and bus stations, its senior vice-president for communication and media affairs, Azhar Ghazali, said.

Tags / Keywords: Health, Nation, News

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