Employers with outdoor work are reminded to take measures to manage the risks associated with heat stress and solar UV radiation as Australia’s summer takes hold with hot weather forecasts.
Employers can minimise the risk of heat-related incidents by modifying workloads and schedules to avoid the hottest times of day, rotating or sharing ‘hot tasks,’ increasing rest and hydration breaks and making sure rest areas in shady or cool areas are available.
Employers should also provide appropriate protective gear to minimise solar UV radiation exposure. Workers should wear loose-fitting clothing covering their arms and legs, preferably made from a natural fibre and drink cool water at regular breaks to stay hydrated.
Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012, employers are responsible for appropriately managing workplace risks, including working with the risk of heat stress and solar UV radiation exposure.
A 2016 Skin Health Australia Report (Skin & Cancer Foundation) found that 65 percent of workers are not provided with clothing to protect them from the sun.
The four major controls for preventing solar UV radiation exposure are:
- apply sunscreen
- wear a hat
- wear clothes that cover the arms and legs
- work in the shade
Not Just an Outdoor Problem
Factory workers who use hot machinery and workers who work in roof cavities with little or no air flow are just some examples of workers at risk of heat-related illness indoors.
Businesses all have duties under work health and safety laws to manage the risks of working in heat and protect worker health and safety.
To help identify hazards in your workplace you should talk to workers, including any health and safety representatives, and other duty holders.
Source: WorkSafe SA, 05 December 2018
Source: WorkSafe Australia, 10 January 2019