Office workers troubled by dusty environment

Companies in the vicinity of a concrete batching plant in Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur, are blaming it for the increasing number of staff members falling sick.

Chuan Huat Group corporate affairs general manager Simon Lee said their staff complained of breathing difficulties and skin problems such as rashes and itch in the past three to four months.

“The affected staff members are those who work outdoors such as security guards and employees in the store and warehouse,” he said.

He said the Occupational Safety and Health Department (DOSH) visited three weeks ago to check on the staff.

He said other concrete batching plants in the area were sited in more isolated locations.

“Such a plant should not be allowed to operate in a commercial area where there are offices,” he added.

A staff member from Winstar Aluminium Manufacturing Sdn Bhd, another firm located nearby, said it was very dusty from November to December last year but acknowledged the situation had improved recently.

The concrete batching plant — Tasek Concrete Sdn Bhd — highlighted that the location was industrial land.

“Otherwise, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) would not have approved our plant there,” its operations manager Chin Chun Keong said.

He said the site was approved by local authorities after it met the requirements.

During a visit at the plant, he pointed out the “very minimal” dust inside the plant because of the efficient filtering system.

“The dust being complained about is outside when our lorries move in and out,” he said.

To combat that, he said water was sprayed on the ground frequently and the frequency was increased on hot and dry days.

He added that the company was arranging more meetings with its neighbours to explain the situation.

On the complaints that the heavy lorries were damaging the roads, Chin said the company had invested in a heavy-duty interlocking concrete paver, which acts as reinforcement on top of the current road.

“We have spent RM200,000 to RM300,000 to install the interlocking concrete paver and to plant trees around the factory. This is the extra effort we are undertaking, which is not part of the requirements by local authorities,” he added.

Federal Territories Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya DOSH director Abdul Kahar Husain said its officers monitored dust levels at the buildings of the complainants on Feb 16.

“We have found that the reading is way below the Maximum Exposure Limit for Respirable Dust.

“The level is not detrimental to health,” he said.

He said they had visited the area on Jan 30 this year for initial investigation and then conducted a building occupant survey by doctors and nurses on Feb 25.

“Our doctors and nurses did not find any of the rashes and itchiness at the time of the check-up,” he said.

He added they have sent four notices of improvement to Tasek Concrete on Jan 30 advising the company to conduct water spraying outside its compound and to ensure their staff wear protective equipment and attire.

A DBKL spokesman said the building approval was given on July 25 last year.

“All 10 operators of concrete batching plants in the area have been contacted by DBKL and they have agreed to follow all the conditions given,” he said.

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