Working Safely In The Heat

Master Electricians Australia RSS Feed

20 January 2014

With record levels of heat and humidity being experienced across Australia, Master Electricians Australia (MEA) is urging employers to ensure their workers are not exposed to potentially deadly heat stress.  
 
Working in the heat for a long period of time without adequate breaks, shade or water can lead to serious dehydration and workers are at risk of heat related illness or even death.  
 

Heat stress can cause the following effects ranging from mild discomfort to serious illness:

  • Rashes – eg. Prickly heat
  • Heat cramps
  • Heat fainting
  • Heat Exhaustion
  • Heat fatigue
  • Heat stroke – a life threatening condition that requires immediate first-aid and medical attention.
Immediate assistance should be provided if a worker experiences any of the above symptoms.  
 
Working in the heat can also affect health and safety in a variety of ways, including:
  • Reduced ability to concentrate
  • Increased discomfort when wearing protective clothing and using protective equipment
  • Aggravating the effects of other hazards such as noise
  • Aggravating pre-existing illnesses.
Workplace health and safety legislation in Australia requires employers to provide and maintain so far as is practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.  
 
The risk of heat strain and heat exhaustion must be minimized and this can be done by:
  • Providing a supply of cool drinking water
  • Providing a cool, well-ventilated area where workers can take rest breaks
  • Providing personal protective equipment – wide brim hats, loose-fitting long sleeved collared shirts and long pants, sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Increase air movement through the use of fans
  • Altering work schedules so that work can be completed at cooler times
  • Reducing the time an individual spends doing hot tasks such as by job or task rotation
  • Arranging for more workers to do the job
  • Using mechanical aids to assist in carrying out manual tasks
  • Provide training and information on heat stress – identification of hazards, recognizing the symptoms, appropriate first aid procedures etc.
For more information on heat stress and your obligations as an employer contact your local Work Health and Safety regulator or our Workplace Relations Team on 1300 889 198.

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