With temperatures predicted to be in the mid-high 30’s again today, SafeWork NSW is urging businesses to take steps to ensure workers are safe.

Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy said workers can get seriously injured and even die while working in the heat so businesses needed plans 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 today,” Mr Dunphy said.

“Outdoor workers and those working in hot environments such as roof spaces or other confined areas are 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 managers, supervisors and co-workers should keep an eye out for each other.

“The heat can reduce a worker’s concentration, ability to recognise risks and communicate effectively,” he said.

“Keep an eye out for signs of heat related illness such as dizziness, general weakness, collapse and in extreme cases, heat stroke.

“If you’re a manager or supervisor, 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.”

SafeWork NSW has published a working in extreme heat video on its You Tube channel that provides tips for businesses and workers tips on how to work safely in today’s heat. The video can be viewed on any smart phones or mobile device.

SafeWork NSW recommendations for working in the heat:

  • 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 day,” Mr Dunphy said.

Free guidance material on fatigue management and working safely in the sun is available from www.safework.nsw.gov.au or by calling 13 10 50. Visit www.cancercouncil.com.au for sun safety tips.

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