WorkSafe is urging employers to plan ahead and protect workers against heat illness as Victorians brace for three days of scorching temperatures from tomorrow.
Published:14 February 2023
With daytime highs around 40 degrees expected in northern parts of the state, WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said employers need to ensure tasks are carried out safely.
"Working in hot conditions can easily lead to dehydration and heat illnesses such as heat rash, fainting, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which is a life-threatening condition."
Dr Beer said it is crucial employers take all possible measures to prevent or minimise the risk of heat illness.
"This could be as simple as starting work earlier, or rescheduling strenuous work for a cooler day. It also includes providing workers with cold water and regular breaks in a cool area."
Not only must employers think about the impact of hot weather on outdoor workers, but on those working inside.
"Sometimes temperatures in spaces with no air conditioning or poor ventilation, such as a roof space or shed, exceed the temperature outside," Dr Beer said.
"These spaces often retain the heat for a long period of time, which means the workers face a greater risk of heat illness and fatigue."
Hot working conditions can also lead to other health and safety issues such as trips and falls due to fatigue, cutting corners due to heat discomfort, and loss of grip when handling tools with sweaty hands.
Employers should consult with their workers and HSRs, prepare a tailored strategy for their individual circumstances and ensure workers are educated on how to recognise heat-related illnesses in themselves and others.
Some symptoms of heat-related illness:
Nausea or vomiting
Ways to help manage heat risks:
Reschedule work so physically demanding jobs are performed during the cooler part of the day.
Work from a different location.
Wear light clothing that still provides adequate protection.
Provide extra rest breaks in a cool area.
Ensure workers have access to cool water and are staying hydrated.