Monday 07 December 2015

Take care of staff working in extreme heat

With summer here and temperatures across the state beginning to climb, WorkSafe is reminding employers to be aware of the risks faced by their workers in times of extreme heat.

Employers are being urged to ensure that work during hot periods is adequately planned and to talk with employees on ways to manage tasks safely in hot conditions.

While there are clear safety risks for people working outdoors, many people who work indoors or in confined spaces are also at risk from indirect heat or fatigue during heatwave periods.

WorkSafe’s Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said employers need to be vigilant in ensuring workers are able to cope with the conditions.

“We know that individuals may have different responses to extreme heat and require particular support,” Ms Williams said. “Fatigue can result in exceptionally dangerous situations, particularly when people are operating machinery or vehicles.”

Employers can help manage the risks by:

  • Ensuring workers stay hydrated and wear suitable hats, clothing and other sun protection
  • Modifying workloads if necessary so strenuous tasks are performed during cooler parts of the day or reducing time spent on those tasks
  • Providing additional rest breaks in a cool, shaded area
  • Providing cool drinking water near the work site and encouraging workers to take more breaks
  • Using mechanical aids to reduce physical exertion
  • Providing workers with information, instruction and training to manage fatigue and illness associated with high temperatures.

“It’s important to plan out the day and prioritise the workload,” Ms Williams said.  

“Some tasks may need to be rescheduled or modified to reduce exposure to the heat. It could be a simple plan to start and finish the day earlier that prevents a workplace injury or something much worse.”

For more information, go to worksafe.vic.gov.au/workinginheat or contact the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089.

Employers and workers can also visit www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au or www.sunsmart.com.au for further information on how to safely manage working in the heat. 

Further Information

WorkSafe media enquiries: Peter Flaherty: 0478 881 663, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Caitlin Rode: 0434 685 577, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, email info@worksafe.vic.gov.au or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.