Employers with outdoor work are reminded to take measures to manage the risks associated with heat stress and solar UV radiation as South Australia's summer takes hold with hot weather forecasts the next two days.
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.
For more tips on preventing heat-related illness or injury, visit the SafeWork SA website.
Quotes attributable to Glenn Farrell, Director, Workplace Education & Business Services
Working in hot conditions is a seasonal hazard of living in South Australia, and it is important that workers and employers alike are alert to the possibilities of heat stress or UV exposure and take preventative measures.
If a worker is experiencing heat stress symptoms such as feeling dizzy, weak, clumsy or disorientated, they should rest in a cool area, loosen clothing and drink cool fluids – water ideally. Soft drinks or energy drinks are not recommended.
It is important that employers and other workers look out for each other, and act immediately if someone appears to be affected. There are easy ways to prevent heat stress, and I encourage all of those working outside on our hot days to take care of themselves by staying hydrated, wearing protective clothing and taking rest breaks in the shade.