With temperatures predicted to be above 40 degrees in parts of the State this week, SafeWork NSW has urged businesses to take steps ensure workers are safe.

Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy said workers had died in the past while working in the heat and businesses needed plans in place to prevent workers suffering heat stress or heat illness.

“Businesses and workers, particularly those working outdoors, should adopt a flexible and common sense approach to working in the heat this week,” Mr Dunphy said.

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

“By monitoring temperature, humidity, hydration and work activity, businesses can minimise the risks of heat stress and heat-related illness when working in hot and sunny conditions.

Mr Dunphy said that the heat can reduce a worker’s concentration, ability to recognise risks and communicate effectively.

“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,” he said.

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

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

“Also ensure workers are hydrated by having access to plain drinking water.”

SafeWork NSW recommendations for 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 at the end of the week,” Mr Dunphy said.

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

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