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Monday, May 20, 2024

Welcome relief from heat for rural cleansing workers

Frontline cleansing workers in rural areas have seen their working environment improve, as authorities added facilities for easy, accessible drinking water, including convenient rest places for short breaks during hot weather, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said yesterday.
The department said on Labor Day that it attaches importance to the needs of both departmental staff and outsourced workers, and put up notices to make sure all workers are aware of the locations of the newly added facilities.

"There are some 900 village-type refuse collection points with temporary structures under the FEHD, and most of them are located in rural areas and unable to provide these convenience facilities within the refuse collection points due to landscape restriction," a department spokesman said.

"Despite the fact that no personnel was deployed to station at the refuse collection points, the department spares no effort in ensuring that cleansing staff working in the vicinity can find drinking water, places for a short break under hot weather, water for cleansing tools and toilet facilities at their workplaces or areas within a walking distance of several minutes."

As the summer is approaching, the department has also provided portable waist fans to all outdoor cleansing workers to help them keep cool in hot weather.

"Since last year, the department has added a new contract clause when awarding new service contracts, requiring contractors to provide portable waist fans to outdoor working staff," it said.

The department said it has been committed to improving the working and resting environment of frontline cleaners in recent years, adding that changing rooms, storage space and toilets have been provided for frontline staff in all the new facilities.

It added that the authorities are reviewing the convenience facilities at all off-street refuse collection points and roll-call points since 2019, offering resting facilities, cold and hot water dispensers, microwave ovens, electric steamers, refrigerators and electric fans.

The staff resting areas will also be fitted with environment and situation permit air conditioning systems, it said.

The FEHD has also imposed measures to enhance the monitoring of service contractors to protect frontline workers' rights and interests, including follow-ups on complaints against contractors and random checks.

"If a service contractor is found to be in breach of contract terms, such as failing to provide sufficient drinking water to employees, the FEHD could issue a notice of blatant default to the contractor and deduct its monthly payment for service," the department warned.
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