Working in extreme weather
Managing the impact of heat in the workplace
As the warmer weather approaches, and summer is almost at the doorstep, it’s a timely reminder to be aware of and understand the risks of working in extreme weather and heat.
Working in heat is a hazard that can result in severe health problems for many workers – whether they work indoors or outdoors. If the body has to work too hard to keep cool, it starts to overheat and a worker begins to suffer from heat-related illness.and the warmer weather With Australia experiencing unprecedented weather, extreme high temperatures and heatwave conditions, it’s more vital than ever before to become ‘heat-wise’.
Managing the effects of heat and the impact of heat on people’s health is important as heat stress can cause serious injury or illness – whether at home, out and about, or in the workplace.
Having a Heat Management Plan and using tools that are readily available like Worksafe Queensland’s Heat Stress Online Calculator can be beneficial.
Managing heat in the workplace
Working in heat can not only be uncomfortable, it can have serious effects on people’s health, and potentially be life-threatening.
Some effects of heat stress can cause hangover-like symptoms, especially for workers who work in warm workplaces – outdoors or indoors. This means that the effects of working in heat may not be immediately apparent, but delayed and set in towards the end of their shift or after a heat-exposed work day.
Employers, managers, supervisors and workers all have duties under WHS legislation to manage risks in the workplace, including the risks associated with working in heat and extreme temperatures.
Of course, it’s important to stay hydrated and keep cool where possible. However, the workplace can expose many other heat-related risks and hazards that all involved need to be aware of, and there should be a plan in place to manage these risks.
WorkSafe Queensland lists a range of factors in the workplace that can contribute to heat-related illness:
- “wearing high levels of personal protective equipment (e.g. hazmat suits)
- heat from extremely hot or molten material (e.g. foundries, steel mills, bakeries, smelters, glass factories, and furnaces)
- sunshine (e.g. outdoor work such as construction, road repair, open-pit mining and agriculture)
- high humidity (e.g. laundries, restaurant kitchens, and canneries)
- internal body heat (e.g. from heavy manual work).”
Be prepared. Have a heat management plan.
- raise awareness of the common effects of working in the heat – including heat stroke and heat exhaustion,
- understand who has legal duties under WHS legislation to manage the risk of working in heat,
- identify ways of managing the risk of working in heat, and
- what to do if someone develops a heat-related illness.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) also has a ‘Heatwave Service’ publishing regular updates on Heatwave Forecasts for all regions across Australia. It’s a good idea to review this on a regular basis to be prepared for any upcoming hot or heatwave conditions and manage how this may affect your workers or the workplace – whether indoors or outdoors.
A workplace Heat Management Plan is also a good resource to have in place to ensure you have assessed the workplace risks of heat, and have a plan in place to minimise or eliminate the heat-associated hazards and risks in your workplace.
Get in touch
We can assist you to undertake a WHS assessment to identify the heat-related risks in your workplace and work with you to develop a Heat Management Plan customised for your business.
Talk to us. Call us on 07 3348 3666 or send us an email with your enquiry at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a complimentary consultation.
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