Heat stress is an important issues for consideration by employers. Worksafe Queensland have issued guidelines and tools to manage heat stress at workplaces. With above average daytime temperatures forecast in the months ahead, Queensland workplaces are urged to take extra care when employees brave the heat.
“Employers need to plan ahead now and protect workers from heat stress,” said Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s Carolyn Topping, the Director of Occupational Health and Hygiene.
Queensland Worksafe have developed a heat stress calculator on their website.
“It’s a tool which can predict when heat-induced illness is likely to occur. The website also has advice on how to prevent heat stress.
“The Bureau of Meteorology has an updated, easy to access Heatwave Service available at www.bom.gov.au/australia/heatwave.”
Ms Topping said workers must be provided with heat and sun protection, as well as having sun safety tips explained to them. If they’re not clear, have trouble understanding, or are concerned they’re working in an unsafe, hot environment, they are encouraged to speak up.
“If workers are struggling in excessive heat or high humidity, then they should not stall at all – they need to talk to a supervisor immediately,” Ms Topping said.
“Employers must ensure workers wear protective gear, including a hat and sunscreen, take adequate breaks, use shade and keep 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 2011 provides guidance for managing the risks associated with outdoor work.
Heat stress risk is not just related to temperature – there are 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.
Safetysure Director John Ninness said “There are a range of simple steps for workplaces to manage heat stress and employee’s exposed to hot environments. Programs to manage these issues are critical to ensuring statutory obligations are met for workplaces”
Safetysure assists Queensland workplaces to develop strategies around managing and monitoring heat stress at their workplace. For further information, contact Safetysure on 1300 087 888.
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