Working in intense heat, whether indoors or outdoors, can raise normal body temperature and in a worst-case scenario lead to heat stroke and possible death.
Heat-related illness and fatigue may also impair thinking and reaction times, which can increase the risk of worker injury, for example, by making errors, dropping tools or stumbling.
Extreme heat does not just affect outdoor workers. Indoor workers can also be at risk if they work in poorly ventilated areas or near hot areas such as kitchens, foundries or laundries.
MANAGING THE RISK OF HEAT-RELATED ILLNESS
Be proactive and develop plans that will protect your workers from heat-related illness and the broader effects of extreme heat. Consider a buddy system so workers can keep an eye out for each other on hot days, and make sure there is always access to first aid.
For outdoor workers you can take practical steps to reduce risk by:
- monitoring weather forecasts and planning ahead
- postponing work or rescheduling tasks to earlier or later parts of the day
- moving work to cooler areas
Australian workers are more vulnerable to skin cancer due to exposure to high levels of UV radiation. Businesses and workers need to be vigilant to the risks of working outdoors without adequate protection from the sun.
For indoor workers, make sure your workplace is well ventilated. Install air conditioning or, if you cant do that, install electric fans. For areas that are near heat sources or hot processes, make sure you have insulating shields or barriers to protect workers.