The Bureau of Meteorology has issued their long-range summer forecast, with expectations that summer temperatures are set to be above average for much of Australia.
WorkSafe has issued a warning following the announcement, explaining the risks of working in extreme temperatures and reminding employers that extra care needs to be taken to avoid heat stress and the potentially much more serious condition of heatstroke.
Darren Kavanagh of WorkSafe WA explained that “this warning goes out not only to outdoor workers but also to employees that may be exposed to constant high temperatures that can result in heat stress or even heat stroke in indoor workplaces like foundries.”
“Workplace safety laws require employers to ensure that workers are not exposed to hazards and this includes, as far as is practicable, protecting employees from extremes in temperature.
“The increased sweating caused by heat depletes the body’s fluids and can lead to the symptoms of heat stress – tiredness, irritability, inattention and muscular cramps.
“These symptoms don’t just cause physical discomfort, they may also increase the risk of workplace injuries by taking a worker’s attention away from the task at hand, and this is a major concern.”
Workers can avoid heat stress by drinking cool water frequently, taking rest breaks in cooler conditions and wearing loose clothing to assist in air circulation. Workers have also been reminded about choosing appropriate clothing for outdoor work after a WA worker suffered burns from his hi-vis clothing on a worksite in January of 2018.
“Apart from the serious medical concerns arising from heatstroke, the effects of extreme or sustained heat can seriously affect a worker’s concentration levels, and the consequences of this can also be very serious,” Mr Kavanagh said.
“Guarding against heat stress and heat stroke is part of providing a safe and healthy workplace, and I urge employers to ensure that preventative measures are in place.”
WorkSafe WA has released a full list of appropriate ways for PCBUs and workers alike to manage and prevent heat stress and heatstroke during the summer months.