With the hot weather this week here in Perth and 41 degrees forecast tomorrow, we’re getting questions from employers on how to manage employees working in the heat.
What are the rules around working in the heat?
In the case of hot weather, risks such as exposure to the sun, heat stroke and dehydration must be considered. However, safety laws do not require work to cease – many sites outside of the Perth area stay open at extremely high temperatures.
What employers can do to support workers in the heat
It is important to ensure that adequate controls are put in place for the conditions in your specific workplace.
• Encourage regular breaks
• Increase ventilation and air cooling
• Schedule work to avoid the hottest part of the day
• Use shade and shield radiant heat sources
• Provide appropriate PPE
• Keep your team hydrated (250mL of water every 15 –20 minutes)
• Educate the team on heat stress and to watch out for each other
Heat stroke or Heat Stress
Heat stress occurs when the body isn’t able to maintain a healthy temperature (37°C). When working for long periods in the heat, exposed to the sun or equipment that radiates with heat, working with insufficient breaks or hydration, the risks of heat stress will of course be increased.
The symptoms to look out for are:
• Headaches, nausea, fatigue and fainting
• Arm, leg and abdominal muscle cramps
• Heat rash and clammy skin
• Discomfort, irritability and poor alertness
If breaks, hydration and moving to a cooler space isn’t helping to improve symptoms, it may be appropriate for the worker to go home, or in more severe cases seek medical treatment.
HealthDirect is a good resource to determine the severity and need for further treatment with
24 hour health advice on this number 1800 022 222 or online symptom checker here.
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