Safe Work Australia and state regulators have issued a warning over the hazards of working in air pollution and heat.
While the conditions, particularly in Eastern Australia, were significantly affected by bushfire smoke and heat last year, the improved conditions are no reason for PCBUs to relax when it comes to worker safety.
Safe Work Australia reminded businesses to take the appropriate precautions throughout the hotter weather and to be aware of the increased risks of working in the heat or air pollution, to protect worker health and safety, even for those working indoors.
The safety regulator noted that in the ten years to FY 18-19, 1774 workers’ compensation claims had been submitted from working in the heat. 1679 were from working in the sun, 940 of these claims were cancer-related, 441 of these were claims regarding heat stroke or heat stress and 95 were from working in hot indoor conditions.
WorkSafe WA explained that it is critical PCBUs to be aware of the risks when the temperature is high.
WorkSafe WA Commissioner Darren Kavanagh 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.”