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The following article is a general news item provided for the benefit of members. Its contents do not necessarily reflect the views of the Safety Institute of Australia.
Date: 
Wednesday, 9 January, 2019 - 11:30
Category: 
Industry news
Location: 
National News

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland recently urged employers to plan ahead and protect workers from heat stress with above average daytime temperatures across the State.

Workers must be provided with heat and sun protection, as well as having sun safety tips explained to them, said Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s director of occupational health and hygiene, Carolyn Topping.

“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,” 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 has a heat stress calculator on its website, and it can predict when heat-induced illness is likely to occur.

The Bureau of Meteorology also has an updated, easy to access Heatwave Service available.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s Managing the work environment and facilities Code of Practice 2011 also provides guidance for managing the risks associated with outdoor work.

Heat stress risk is not just related to temperature, and 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.