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Date PostedFebruary 12, 2014

WorkSafe Vic urges People to Work Smart in the heat

WorkSafe Victoria has urged people, particularly those who work outdoors, to be cautious over the next week due to the rising temperatures.

Temperatures have been predicted to reach above 40 degrees Celsius over the next few days and WorkSafe Victoria is therefore warning workers to protect themselves against heat related illness and injuries in the workplace.

On WorkSafe Vic’s website, its Director Jarrod Edwards said that employers should ensure that they protect their workers from the heat. Workers have been warned to “work smart” to prevent heat-related illnesses.

Employees and employers have been warned especially if they are working outdoors, to look out for each other and observe each other for signs or symptoms of heat stroke, fainting, heat exhaustion, cramps, rashes and/or fatigue.

It is vital to be on the lookout for symptoms and if you or a co-worker feels nauseas, dizzy, weak or sick in any way, stop work immediately and drink a sufficient amount of water to keep hydrated.

Employers must ensure that workers have access to clean, cool, drinking water and should be encouraged to drink water often and keep well hydrated over the hot days. They should also have a shaded area to rest.

WorkSafe Vic recommends drinking one cup of water or approximately 200ml every 15 to 20 minutes.

Personal protective equipment is also important and employers must ensure that workers are provided with the necessary PPE. Workers should be wearing a wide brimmed hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and loose cotton shirts with collars and sleeves.

Employers should also implement control measures such as fans and air conditioning to increase air flow, erecting shade cloth to minimise heat on work areas.

Workers should also be encouraged to take frequent rest breaks and drink plenty of water to prevent heat related illnesses.

Employers must consider factors such as the humidity, radiant heat and air movement when implementing controls. Employees’ physical fitness and the fact that construction work involves manual labour and usually long hours outdoors should also be considered.

Employers should also keep in mind that workers may get tired more quickly in the heat and this may have an effect on their ability to concentrate on doing their job and in the construction industry, this has an effect on safety. As WorkSafe Victoria points out “mistakes can happen and people get injured” more easily in the heat.

The work safety authority also suggests implementing practical solutions such as modifying workloads and adjusting work rosters so that the same workers aren’t spending the entire day in the sun, if possible. Also reschedule work so strenuous tasks are performed during the cooler part of the day.

Employers can also use mechanical aids to reduce physical exertion to help minimise the effects of working in the heat. Also workers should be provided with information, instruction and training to manage fatigue and illness associated with high temperatures.

The recent death of a Melbourne based school gardener due to the heat is an example of what can happen when the proper precautions aren’t taken in the heat, so employees and employers need to ensure they play their part in keeping everyone safe and healthy.

Steven Asnicar is regarded as a leader across many fields of industry. In particular, his specialisation across the health, infrastructure, construction, resource and utility sectors has seen him successfully change the dynamics of these industries through the introduction of new strategic, marketing, training and technical frameworks. Steven works closely with industry peak bodies such as Safework Australia, Australian Logistics Council, National Advisory for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (NATESE) and the Council of Australian Governments in the development of new delivery standards and industry specific programs.

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