WorkSafe urges employers to protect workers from heat-related illnesses

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WorkSafe Victoria is urging employers in the north of the state to ensure the protection of workers in this week’s prolonged extreme heat.

As the temperatures are expected to go over 40 degrees for the next few days, employers are reminded to ensure tasks are managed safely.

“Working in hot conditions can easily result in workers becoming dehydrated and suffering heat stress. Serious cases of heat stress can result in serious brain injury and organ failure, so the risks should never be underestimated,” said WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen.

“It’s important to plan out the day and prioritise the workload. Some work may need to be rescheduled or modified to reduce exposure to the heat. It could be a simple plant to start and finish the day earlier.”

Ms. Nielsen said employers should also consider the impact of heat on workers performing indoor tasks.

“The temperature in a roof space, or next to a metal wall can be significantly higher than an outdoor area, which means workers can face an even greater risk of heat stress and fatigue,” she said.

“Fatigue can result in exceptionally dangerous situations, particularly when people are operating machinery or vehicles, or driving home after work.”

WorkSafe recommends rescheduling work so that hot tasks are performed during the cooler part of the day, reducing the time spent doing hot tasks, arranging for more workers to do the job, providing extra rest breaks in a cool area, using mechanical aids to reduce physical exertion, and ensuring workers have access to cool water and stay hydrated.

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