Worksafe WA Warns Of Heat Stress As Temperatures Set To Soar Over Summer

Published October 10, 2019 (last updated July 22, 2020) -

WorkSafe WA have put out a notice warning people against working in extreme weather temperatures as daytime temperatures are set to soar this summer.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, who released their summer outlook last week, temperatures are likely to be above average across the mainland of Australia for the remainder of 2019 and beginning of 2020.

The Commissioner of WorkSafe WA, Darren Kavanagh has urged workers and employers to be mindful this summer and to take extra care at work.

“This warning goes out not only to outdoor workers, but also to employees that may be exposed to constant high temperatures that can result in heat stress or even heat stroke in indoor workplaces like foundries,” Mr Kavanagh said in a press release.

“Workplace safety laws require employers to ensure that workers are not exposed to hazards and this includes, as far as is practicable, protecting employees from extremes in temperature.

“The increased sweating caused by heat depletes the body’s fluids and can lead to the symptoms of heat stress – tiredness, irritability, inattention and muscular cramps.

“These symptoms don’t just cause physical discomfort, they may also increase the risk of workplace injuries by taking a worker’s attention away from the task at hand, and this is a major concern.”

Mr Kavanagh also mentioned that aside from serious medical concerns that arise from extreme weather conditions, the effects of heat can seriously have impact on a worker’s concentration level, which can lead to other serious consequences.

Employsure recommends that employers must ensure that staff working in extreme weather conditions are able to carry out their duties without risk or danger to their health or safety.

It is also recommended that personal factors such as age or weight, and environmental factors such as air temperature and humidity levels, are considered when assessing the risk to workers from working in very hot (or cold) environments.

In the case that an employee is working in heat, Employsure recommends undertaking a risk assessment to ensure appropriate control measures are in place. Supplying cool drinking water, rotating jobs and providing regular breaks can assist with reducing the risk of heat stress.

Employsure also suggests that it may be beneficial to reorganise work for early morning or late evenings to avoid the higher temperatures or in some cases of extreme conditions, ceasing work completely. A business should discuss the symptoms of heat stroke with their workers so that they are able to monitor their conditions and if possible, supply breaks in a cool, well-ventilated area.

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