With heat and humidity on the rise in Queensland, workplaces have been urged to take extra care this summer when workers are out in these conditions.
“Employers need to plan ahead and protect workers from heat stress,” said Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s Carolyn Topping, Director of Occupational Health and Hygiene.
“To help, there’s an easy to use heat stress calculator on our website.
“Using this tool, you can predict when heat-induced illness is likely to occur and advice on how to prevent heat stress.
“The Bureau of Meteorology also has an easy to access Heatwave Service available at www.bom.gov.au/australia/heatwave.”
Workers must be provided with heat and sun protection. They must also have sun safety tips explained to them. However, if they’re not clear, have trouble understanding, or are concerned they’re working in an unsafe, hot environment, workers are encouraged to speak up.
“The bottom line is if workers are struggling with high temperatures or oppressive humidity, then they should talk to a supervisor immediately,” Ms Topping said.
“Employers must look after their workers by ensuring they wear protective gear, including a hat and sunscreen, take regular breaks and seek shade.
“Look to alternative tasks where possible—tasks which can be done in cooler, shaded areas of your workplace. Then rotate staff so no-one is spending too long in the sun.
“It’s also vital everyone keeps hydrated to prevent heat exhaustion, heat stroke, fainting and cramps.”
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s Managing the work environment and facilities Code of Practice 2013(PDF, 712.55 KB) provides guidance for managing the risks associated with outdoor work.
Heat stress risk isn’t solely related to temperature. There’s a combination of factors which contribute to heat-related problems at work, including:
- exposure to direct sunlight, especially during the hottest part of the day
- exposure to reflected heat from construction materials, polished aluminium and glass
- carrying out strenuous tasks or work for sustained long periods
- exposure to additional heat from machinery
- inadequate cooling off, rest periods or insufficient water consumption
- climatic conditions (low air movement, high humidity, high temperature)
- inappropriate clothing
- factors that may cause dehydration such as poor diet, vomiting, diarrhoea or alcohol and caffeine consumption.