Heat stress leading to workers’ comp claims

Public news

South Australia is no stranger to hot conditions over the summer period, with temperatures expected to reach over 40 degrees in some parts of the state this week and over the next couple of months.

Now is the time to put in place preventative measures in your automotive workshop to reduce the risk of illness from heat and UV exposure or else you could risk facing potential workers compensation claims from your employees.

Safe Work Australia revealed this month that between 2008 and 2018, there were 1,360 workers’ compensation claims resulting from working in hot conditions across Australia.

  • 1,235 of these claims were as a result of working in the sun and;

- 750 of these claims were cancer-related

- 140 of these were claims regarding heat stroke or heat stress

  • 85 of these claims were from working in hot indoor conditions

- 40 of these were claims regarding heat stroke or heat stress

The MTA’s advice to avoid any claims is:

  • Monitor employees if there have been three or more days over 35 degrees
  • Ensure employees are taking in adequate amounts of water
  • In situations of hotter than normal temperatures, assign personnel a "buddy" to monitor each other
  • In extreme heat situations, assign regular breaks where possible based on workload
  • Have supplies of electrolyte replacement powders or fluids available
  • Monitor for advanced signs of heat exhaustion, such as: clammy skin, confusion, light‐headedness, fainting, vomiting, weakness, short temper, fatigue and loss of concentration

To reduce the risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke when a serious incident occurs:

  • Place the person in a cool and shady location
  • Open clothing
  • Wipe exposed skin with a damp cloth, towel at air temperature - not cold
  • If there is no air flow, create some!
  • Give slow sips of water or electrolyte replacement fluids

Safe Work Australia has developed a Working in Heat factsheet for you to put up around your business this summer highlighting the causes of workers compensation claims in relation to heat stress and the ways to control risks.

Click here to access the Safe Work Australia factsheet.

If you need any assistance in creating Work, Health and Safety policies in your workplace that include dealing with working in hot conditions, click here to contact the MTA’s Workplace Relations team.