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Is it ever too hot to work outside?

Published November 08, 2016 (last updated June 24, 2020) -
Construction Worker Resting On A Hot Dat

Australians will generally appreciate the fact that it can get extremely hot in summer. So if your workplace requires employees to be outdoors, it is important to ask the question: if it is too hot outside, should I allow employees to stop working?

As an employer, you must make sure so far as is reasonably practicable, that workers carrying out work in extreme weather conditions, are able to do so without risk to their health and safety.

You should consider personal and environmental factors when assessing the risk to workers from working in very hot (or cold) environments.

However, whatever the thermometer reads, if most people are complaining of the heat, common sense says that it is too hot and something must be done to protect workers from health risks.

You should also remember that air temperature is only a rough guide because humidity, wind speed, radiant heat sources, and clothing, all have an effect, which an ordinary thermometer will not take into account.

Environmental factors include:

  • air temperature
  • humidity level

Personal factors include:

  • level and duration of physical activity
  • amount and type of clothing worn
  • weight and age of a person
  • duration of the exposure

If the work environment is too hot, and there is no possibility of eliminating exposure to extreme heat, Employsure suggests various minimising actions that can be undertaken, so far as is reasonable practicable, and can include:

  • slowing down the pace of work if possible
  • supplying cool drinking water
  • ensuring light clothing is worn
  • providing a cool, well-ventilated area where workers are able to take rest breaks
  • providing job rotation and regular rest breaks
  • supplying sun protection such as hats and sunscreen

While there is no hard line on the conditions that are considered as ‘too hot’ to work, the above actions can minimise health and safety risks in your workplace. If you have questions or would like to learn more about minimising health and safety risks in your workplace, contact Employsure today on 1300 651 415 to speak with a specialist.

About Employsure

Employsure is Australia’s largest workplace relations specialists. We take the complexity out of workplace laws to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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