A fuzzy association rule-based knowledge management system for occupational safety and health programs in cold storage facilities

AuthorY.P. Tsang,K.L. Choy,P.S. Koo,G.T.S. Ho,C.H. Wu,H.Y. Lam,Valerie Tang
A fuzzy association rule-based
knowledge management system
for occupational safety and health
programs in cold storage facilities
Y.P. Tsang and K.L. Choy
Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering,
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
P.S. Koo
AOC Limited, Kwai Chung, Hong Kong, and
G.T.S. Ho,C.H. Wu,H.Y. Lam and Valerie Tang
Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering,
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Purpose This paper aims to improve operational efciency and minimize accident frequency in cold
storage facilities through adopting an effective occupational safety and health program. The hidden
knowledge can be extracted from the warehousing operations to create the comfortable and safe
workplace environment.
Design/methodology/approach A fuzzy association rule-based knowledge management system
is developed by integrating fuzzy association rule mining (FARM) and rule-based expert system
(RES). FARM is used to extract hidden knowledge from real operations to establish the relationship
between safety measurement, personal constitution and key performance index measurement. The
extracted knowledge is then stored and adopted in the RES to establish an effective occupational and
safety program. Afterwards, a case study is conducted to validate the performance of the proposed
Findings Theresultsindicatethattheaforementioned relationship can be built in the form of IF-
THEN rules. An appropriate safety and health program can be developed and applied to all workers,
so that they can follow instructions to prevent cold induced injuries and also improve the
Practical implications Because of the increasing public consciousness of occupational safety and
health, it is important for the workers in cold storage facilities where the ambient temperature is at/below
10°C. The proposedsystem can address the social problem and promote the importance of occupational safety
and health in the society.
Originality/value This study contributes to the knowledge management system for improving the
occupationalsafety and operational efciency in the cold storagefacilities.
Keywords Knowledge management system, Knowledge discovery, Cold storage management,
Safety and health program
Paper type Research paper
The authors would like to thank the Research Oce of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and
AOC Limited for supporting the project. (Project Code: RUDV).
safety and
Received26 January 2017
Revised4 August 2017
Accepted27 November 2017
VINEJournal of Information and
KnowledgeManagement Systems
Vol.48 No. 2, 2018
pp. 199-216
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/VJIKMS-01-2017-0004
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
As consumers are quality-driven and health-conscious in the supply chain, especially for
food, chemicals and pharmaceutical products, there is a booming demand for cold chain
logistics. Compared with products in the generic supply chain, temperature sensitive and
perishable products in a cold chain have certain characteristics, including short shelf life,
high perishability, long production throughput time, seasonality and need for refrigeration
in transportation and storage (Aramyan et al.,2007). Particularly for the handling of frozen
products, warehouses, called cold storage facilities, are specially designed to maintain the
product quality, and the deliverytrucks are also equipped with refrigerators. By using state-
of-the-art technologies, the product traceability in cold chain logistics is well-developed by
the controlling and monitoring of environmental conditions in transportation and storage
(Kuo and Chen, 2010;Lu et al., 2013). It is implied thatthe temperature and humidity in cold
storage environments are extraordinary low, even extreme, which may inuence workers
health and safety withouteffective resource planning.
However, there is limitedresearch on the occupational safety and health (OSH) aspects in
cold storage facilities. As the extreme environmental conditions may affect the productivity
and increase the probability of getting cold inducedinjuries, controlling and monitoring the
workers is essential to improve the whole supply chain efciency. When working at or
below 10°C, workers may feel uncomfortable or be prone to cold injuries (Mäkinen and
Hassi, 2009). In 2009,two workers died in an American cold storage facilityafter completing
maintenance work (Gazaway, 2009). Because of the lack of appropriate safety and risk
management, 15 workers died and 26 workers were injured at a Shanghai cold storage
facility because of unexpected ammonia leakage (Laurence, 2013). To prevent such
unfortunate accidents, certain safety assessments and measurements should be adopted in
cold storage environments. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
introduced a method of determination and interpretation of cold stress, called ISO11079
(Holmer, 2009). This standard provides estimates of the maximum allowed working time
and minimum recovery time when working in a cold environment. In current practice,
warehouse workers can follow the instructions from ISO 11079, integrated with their
experience and judgement, to develop OSH routines. However, there are two challenges in
regard to implementing the comprehensive OSH program, as illustrated in Figure 1. The
Figure 1.
Existing problemsin
cold storage facilities

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