Just outside my window, I’m looking at a window cleaner, hanging out in direct sunlight on a 40-degree day, absolutely dripping with sweat. Meanwhile the person next to me as I type this is literally wearing a scarf.
Congratulations Sydney, we just made it through the hottest January on record; and February is shaping up to be a lot worse. Now I may think it’s been terrible, but full disclosure; I work in an air-conditioned office. So really, my complaining about the heat is really me complaining about the heat between work and the nearest bus stop.
Woe is me, right?
For those that aren’t in an air-conditioned office though, the heat can be a nasty workplace hazard that kinda comes with the job. Is it something you just have to suck up and endure though? Not according to SafeWork Australia.
Across the board, there aren’t any precise temperatures at which workers should stop work, but essentially, the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulation 2011
“…requires employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that workers working in extremes of heat or cold are able to carry out their work without risk to their health and safety”.
That’s a fairly broad guideline but the SafeWork QLD site has a handy calculator to help you figure out your cumulative risk which can be found here: https://fswqap.worksafe.qld.gov.au/etools/etool/heat-stress-basic-calculator-test/
In plain English though, what are the warning signs, and how do you avoid heat-related injury?
According to the WorkSafe NSW website, the warning signs of heat-related illness are:
Whether you’re a safety nut or not, you can see how even one of those symptoms could lead to serious injury either directly or secondarily.
There are a number of things workers can do to guard themselves against getting heat-related illnesses. Again, from the SafeWork NSW website you and your workers should:
So what’s the takeaway?
If you’re concerned about the environmental conditions of your workplace, raise it your immediate supervisor and discuss how you might reduce the impact on yourself and your team. There are plenty of controls to be put in place that really shouldn’t impact the day-to-day negatively at all. In the end; it’s in everyone’s best interest to have a happy and healthy workforce, so it’s win-win.
Stay cool out there.
(and as always; safe)
By Christopher Notley-Smith at donesafe.com
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