Safe Work Australia issues reminder about working in heat

Friday, 13 December, 2019

Safe Work Australia issues reminder about working in heat

Extreme heat is an Australian summer staple, but working in heat can pose significant health and safety risks, Safe Work Australia (SWA) is reminding businesses.

Heat stroke and heat stress accounted for 180 workers compensation claims over the 10 years to 2017–18, SWA said, 40 of which related to working in hot indoor conditions.

Heat-related illness arises when the body struggles to keep cool or starts to overheat and includes conditions such as fainting, heat rash, cramps, exhaustion and heat stroke.

Other effects of working in heat include dehydration, burns, slips, reduced concentration and increased chemical uptake by the body which can potentially increase some medications’ side effects, SWA said in its Guide for managing the risks of working in heat.

SWA said employers and workers could mitigate these risks by working at cooler times of the day or year, reviewing rest schedules, modifying targets and work rates according to the conditions, moving work to cooler or air-conditioned areas and preventing people from working alone.

SWA reminded employers they have duties under work health and safety laws to eliminate or minimise heat-related risks and protect workers from harm.

More information on managing heat risks can be found in SWA’s infographic, guidance material and web page.

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