As it gets closer to summer and temperatures heat up this week, SafeWork NSW has issued a reminder of the importance of working safely this summer.
Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy said heat stress or heat illness was a serious condition that could result in organ failure or death if work in hot conditions was not safety managed.
“Fatigue and heat stress are major causes of injury during the summer months,” Mr Dunphy said.
“They can reduce a worker’s performance and productivity, plus increase the chance of injury by reducing the ability to concentrate, recognise risks and communicate effectively.
“During the hottest months outdoor workers and those working in hot environments such as roof spaces or other confined areas are the most at risk.
“That’s why everyone should keep an eye out for each other and work together to minimise the effect of heat.”
In the three years to July 2014 there were 228 worker compensation claims for workplace fatigue and heat stroke and Mr Dunphy said these figures highlighted the risk of not working safely in the heat.
“Many workers have been seriously injured or died while working in hot conditions in the past,” he said.
“Workers should be informed how to work safely in the sun and hot conditions.
“Management should set realistic workloads and work schedules, ensure fair distribution of work, provide shaded rest areas and regular breaks.
“If possible, try to re-schedule work to cooler times of the day such as early mornings or late afternoons.”
Other steps businesses can take to manage 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 affect
- 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
- 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
“By taking these steps, we can ensure everyone comes home safely this summer,” Mr Dunphy said.
Further information on working safely in the heat is available from www.safework.nsw.gov.au or by calling 13 10 50. Other sun safety resources are available from the Cancer Council at www.cancercouncil.com.au