Employers are being reminded to protect workers from heat stress throughout Queensland’s warmer months. Employers have a duty of care for their employees and must provide their workers with heat and sun protection, as well as general sun safety tips.
Employers need to ensure workers wear protective gear including a hat and sunscreen, take adequate breaks, seek shade and keep hydrated to prevent heat exhaustion, heat stroke, fainting and cramps.
However, employees should also speak up if they are concerned that they’re working in unsafe, hot environments.
To assist employers, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) has a heat stress calculator on its website to predict if heat-induced illness is likely. It can be used as a basic guide and/or training tool to help identify and manage risks of heat related stress. It is based on the ‘Basic thermal risk assessment’ developed for the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists.
The new calculator is very easy to use and only takes a few minutes to input the required information. The website also has advice on how to prevent heat stress including the Managing the work environment and facilities code of practice 2011 which provides guidance for managing the risks associated with outdoor work.
The risk of heat stress is not only related to temperature, but rather a combination of factors which contribute to heat-related problems at work. These include:
- exposure to direct sunlight, especially during the hottest part of the day
- exposure to reflected heat from construction materials, polished aluminium and glass
- 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
- combined climatic conditions such as low air movement, high humidity and high temperature
- inappropriate clothing
- dehydration caused by poor diet, vomiting, diarrhoea or alcohol and caffeine consumption.
For more information on protecting your workers this summer, visit worksafe.qld.gov.au