SafeWork NSW reminds employers to protect workers from heat hazards

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Photo: SafetyCulture Library

Temperatures are expected to soar into the mid-40s in parts of regional NSW this week, prompting SafeWork NSW to remind businesses to ensure workers are safe.

Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy said businesses needed to take steps to protect workers from the risk of heat-related illness.

“The heat can reduce a worker’s concentration, ability to recognise risks and communicate effectively which can potentially result in serious injury or even death,” Mr Dunphy said.

“Businesses and workers, particularly those working outdoors, should adopt a flexible and common sense approach to working in the heat this week.

“Outdoor workers and those working in hot environments such as roof spaces or other confined areas are most at risk.

“By monitoring temperature, humidity, hydration and work activity, businesses can minimise the risks of heat stress and heat-related illness.”

Mr. Dunphy said it was vital to keep an eye out for each other when working in conditions like these.

“Managers, supervisors, and co-workers should monitor their colleagues for signs of heat-related illness such as dizziness, general weakness, collapse and in extreme cases, heat stroke.

“They should also set realistic workloads and work schedules, ensure fair distribution of work, provide shaded rest areas and regular breaks.

“Where possible, try to re-schedule work to cooler times of the day such as early morning or late afternoon.

“By taking these steps, we can ensure everyone comes home safely at the end of the week,” Mr. Dunphy said.

SafeWork NSW’s safety tips for working in the heat include-

  • Provide access to plain drinking water, at least 200mL every 15-20 minutes
  • Don’t drink energy or caffeinated drinks which can have a diuretic effect
  • Ensure workers wear sun protection in all outdoor conditions because workers can be exposed to UV radiation in the shade as well as the sun
  • Rotate tasks to lessen exposure to the sun as well as mental and physical fatigue
  • Provide clothing with a UPF 50+ rating such as loose shirts with long sleeves, collars, and long pants.
  • Provide broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30+, broad-brimmed hats and sunglasses which meet Australian Standards for UV protection

SafeWork NSW’s working in extreme heat YouTube video provides tips for businesses and workers on how to work safely in the heat and can be viewed on any PC, smartphone or mobile device.

See SafeWork NSW’s free guidance material on fatigue management and working safely in the sun or call 13 10 50 for more information.

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