SafeWork Australia has release a warning about the hazard of working in heat as it can cause harm to workers in both indoor and outdoor work environments.
According to SafeWork Australia, in the last 10 years from 2008-09 to 2017-18, there were 1,360 workers’ compensation claims resulting from working in heat.
1,235 of these claims were from working in the sun:
- 750 of these claims were cancer-related
- 140 of these were claims regarding heat stroke or heat stress
85 of these claims were from working in hot indoor conditions – 40 of these were claims regarding heat stroke or heat stress.
We are reminded that employers have duties under work health and safety laws to manage the risks of working in heat and protect worker health and safety.
WorkSafe Queensland advises that heat stress risk isn’t solely related to temperature. There’s a combination of factors which contribute to heat-related problems at work, including:
- Exposure to direct sunlight, especially during the hottest part of the day
- Carrying out strenuous tasks or work for sustained long periods
- Exposure to additional heat from machinery
- Inadequate cooling off, rest periods or insufficient water consumption
- Climatic conditions (low air movement, high humidity, high temperature)
- Inappropriate clothing
- Factors that may cause dehydration such as poor diet, vomiting, diarrhoea or alcohol and caffeine consumption
Employers and workers in Queesland can refer to a Heat Stress (Basic) Calculator tool made available by the Queensland Government as a basic guide to manage risk while working in heat. Check out the Heat Stress Calculator at fswqap.worksafe. qld.gov.au/etools/etool/heat-stress-basic-calculator-test/
For information on how to identify and address heat-related hazards, employers can refer to the Guide for managing the risks of working in heat available at www. safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/guide-managing-risks-working-heat
You can also download the SafeWork infographic ‘Working in heat’ from the website www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au and share it at your workplace or contact your regulator for further information at www. safeworkaustralia.gov.au/whs-authorities-contact-information