Changi Airport Group’s Claudia Wong explains how Singapore’s gateway to the world keeps its airside staff cool during the hot summer months.
Singapore Changi is one of the world’s busiest international airports and its status ensures that it is home to many staff, including 30,000 airside workers engaged in multiple roles such as ramp assistants, aircraft maintenance engineers and in-flight catering drivers.
All play a key role in supporting operations at Changi and, as Singapore experiences record high temperatures of late, and with higher temperatures posing a greater risk to outdoor workers, Changi Airport Group (CAG) has introduced a number of new measures to keep its airside workers cool.
Beating the heat with infrastructure and facilities
First up are some new 2.5-metre-tall refresh pods located at the various staff rest areas. Cool air is blown and circulated within the pod, at the easy touch of a button. Workers may use it to cool down or dry themselves when caught in wet weather conditions.
To keep airside workers well hydrated, there are over 40 water coolers installed airside, with about eight coolers per pier. A new initiative being introduced this year is the deployment of a drinks truck during the hot months to remind workers to drink up.
Apart from keeping cool, UV protection is also important. Protective sun wear such as UV arm sleeves are being distributed to airside staff, so they can stay protected from the heat at all times.
For new joiners, heat acclimatisation protocols are encouraged for them to get used to the work environment. This means that they are exposed to outdoor weather at gradual time increments and have the flexibility to take more rest breaks during their workday until their body is used to the working conditions.
Awareness and education key to manage heat-stress
In partnership with Raffles Medical Group, talks will be organised for airside supervisors and team leaders to educate them on symptoms of heat stroke and how to render first aid for workers suspected of heat stress.
Dr Sharen Tian from Raffles Medical Group said: “The risk of heat related illness is higher for airside workers, compared to those who work in an indoor setting. It is important to recognise symptoms and prevent heat-related illnesses, before it turns into heat stroke, which is life threatening.
“Some quick tips would be to always remain hydrated and know one’s limits, so that you don’t push yourself beyond that. Colleagues should also keep a lookout for one another.”
These heat stress management measures are all but one part of managing higher ambient temperatures at Changi under CAG’s climate resilience strategy. Foresight and early planning are critical to fostering long-term climate resilience for Changi Airport to enable operational continuity for our passengers.
CAG continually seeks to bolster Changi Airport’s resilience to climate change through infrastructural adaptations and taking care of its staff.
Back on track
Following the relaxation of Singapore’s border restrictions in April 2022, passenger traffic through Changi Airport rose steadily to reach 82% of pre-Covid levels by March 2023.
For the whole of CAG’s FY2022/23, passenger traffic saw an eightfold year-on-year increase to 42.6 million, or 62% of pre-Covid levels, while air traffic movements doubled to reach 67% of pre-COVID levels, supporting the partial recovery in revenues from airport services and airport concessions.
At Jewel, with the resumption of international travel, footfall more than doubled, while the mall was close to approaching full occupancy. Overall, revenue for the Group doubled to S$1.9 billion during FY2021/22.
Talking about the year ahead, Seow Hiang Lee, CEO of CAG, said: “Leveraging the current growth momentum, we are optimistic that passenger traffic can reach pre-COVID levels by 2024.
“However, as we approach a return to normalcy, we are cognisant of new frictions and hurdles that can hamper growth. These include aircraft availability and long-term changes to travelling behaviour. For these reasons, we remain vigilant and will continue to pave the way forward with our emphasis on sustainable travel and building for the future through innovation.”