Hot weather hazards

Public news

Summer is fast approaching again and given the high temperatures in South Australia throughout spring and summer, it is an opportune time to reinforce the necessary steps that need to be taken in dealing with the hazards presented at work when temperatures increase.

Heat stress can be a concern for workers in various work locations, including outdoors, in industrial sheds / workshops, and in confined spaces. It can impair a worker’s ability to concentrate and also to make proper judgements or decisions. A worker suffering from heat stress may experience symptoms such as headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, fainting and confusion. Burns and dehydration can also occur as a result of working in hot conditions.

Here are a few simple steps to follow in keeping cool in the heat especially when the forecasted minimum for any given day is above 30 degrees (C)

  • Schedule work so that the more physical demanding tasks are done during the cooler times of the day. Contact the Workplace Relations Department to enquire as to what flexibilities you can utilise in starting and finishing times.
  • Provide fresh drinking water and regular breaks to ensure that workers are well hydrated.
  • Provide adequate ventilation and air-flow through the use of industrial fans.
  • All personal & protective equipment (PPE) should still be worn to prevent any injuries.
  • Provide adequate personal protection to workers including hats and sun block, when working outdoors.
  • Ensure that workers affected by heat stress inform management as soon as possible so that any concerns are addressed.
  • Request staff to notify supervisors or management if any co-workers appear to be affected by heat stress.
  • Provide an air conditioned space for workers to take breaks

In addition to heat related injuries and illnesses, there is also a higher risk in the automotive workplace associated with heat related hazards including:

  • overheated cooling systems,
  • fire or explosions from welding, grinding,
  • fire risks from oils, chemicals ,tyres, etc

In relation to the above, always ensure that:

  • vehicles are allowed enough time to cool before checking cooling systems
  • all workers are to wear appropriate PPE when working with cooling systems or heated equipment
  • welding and grinding should be completed in controlled environment
  • local fire restrictions are taken into consideration
  • all fire extinguishers are adequately serviced and in good working order
  • staff are trained in the use of fire equipment where practical
  • your emergency evacuation plan is properly displayed and well understood.

Remember that you are also required to report any ‘notifiable’ incident in regards to serious injury / illness or dangerous incident to SafeWork SA. Stay safe and enjoy the summer months!

Click here to contact the MTA’s Workplace Relations team about how we can assist with any issues relating to this matter.