As summer continues to heat up around Australia, while doing so breaking records in a number of states, it may be time to take a close look at your company’s heat stress prevention policies and procedures. For professions and trades in the construction industry, heat stress is a real hazard that has potentially dangerous consequences.

Does your workplace have measures and controls in place to combat this summer time hazard?

Jurisdictional regulators around the country have released a number of safety bulletins, reminding employers and managers on their obligations to their worker’s health and safety.

“Hot weather is a workplace hazard that needs to be considered when planning work activities,” said SafeWorkSA Executive Director, Bryan Russell.

“Heat stress can afflict workers at outdoor locations such as construction sites, storage yards, tarmacs, roads and farms.

“It is also important to recognise that heat poses a risk in confined spaces. Temperatures in industrial sheds can exceed 50 degrees, placing workers at risk.”

“Working in a hot environment can impair workers’ concentration and judgement, which heightens the chances of other harmful incidents occurring,” said Mr Russell.

Symptoms of heat stress include headache, fatigue, dizziness or fainting, increased sweating, mood changes, upset stomach or vomiting.

“Working on through the symptoms of heat stress can lead to serious illness and in extreme cases, death,” said Mr Russell.

The following measures are recommended to protect workers from heat stress in the workplace:

  • Schedule work so that more physically demanding tasks are done when it’s cooler
  • Rotate workers who have to work in direct sunlight – doing so can help reduce the length of sun exposure for each person
  • Where possible, provide artificial shade such as umbrellas, shade cloth or a sunshade
  • Keep well hydrated. South Australian workplace safety laws require that fresh drinking water be provided at all workplaces
  • Adequate ventilation. Wherever possible, the work environment should be ventilated by the use of fans or other means
  • UV protection – sunblock and wide-brimmed hats should be supplied as part of personal protective equipment.
  • Hopefully your workplace has similar policies and procedures in place and therefore has plans to control the heat hazards this summer. If not use this blog as a guide!

Fluro wishes you a safe and fun filled summer!