With temperatures across NSW predicted to be in the mid-high 30s for the remainder of the week, SafeWork NSW has issued a reminder to businesses to be safe while working in the heat.

Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy said businesses and workers, particularly those working outdoors, needed to take precautions to prevent heat stress and heat-related illness.

“Fatigue and heat stress can result in organ failure or death, so it is important to adopt a flexible and common sense approach while working in the heat this week,” Mr Dunphy said.

“By monitoring temperature, humidity, hydration and work activity, businesses can minimise the risks of working in a hot and sunny conditions.

“Outdoor workers and those working in hot environments such as roof spaces or other confined areas are the most at risk of heat related illnesses.

“The heat can reduce a worker’s concentration, ability to recognise risks and communicate effectively, so managers, supervisors and co-workers should keep an eye out for signs of heat related illness such as dizziness, general weakness, collapse and in extreme cases, heat stroke.

“Management should also set realistic workloads and work schedules, ensure fair distribution of work, provide shaded rest areas and regular breaks.

“Where possible, businesses should try to re-schedule work to cooler times of the day such as early morning or late afternoon.

“Also ensure workers stay hydrated and have access to plenty of plain drinking water.”

Steps businesses can take to manage working in the heat this week:

  • Provide access to plain drinking water, at least 200mL every 15-20 minutes
  • Don’t drink energy or caffeinated drinks which can have a diuretic affect
  • Ensure workers wear sun protection in all outdoor conditions because workers can be exposed to UV radiation in the shade as well as the sun
  • Rotate tasks to lessen exposure to the sun as well as mental and physical fatigue
  • Provide clothing with a UPF 50+ rating such as loose shirts with long sleeves, collars and long pants.
  • Provide broad spectrum sunscreen SPF 30+, broad brimmed hats and sunglasses which meet Australian Standards for UV protection

“By taking these steps, we can ensure everyone comes home safely this week,” Mr Dunphy said.

Free guidance material on fatigue management and working safely in the sun is available on this site or call 13 10 50 or visit www.cancercouncil.com.au for sun safety tips.

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