Melbournians typically welcome summer with open arms. It’s the start of beach cricket, picnics, BBQs and having a good time but we must also remember the dangers that come along with those good times, especially in the work place.
As we all know Melbourne weather can deliver 4 seasons in one day however is not uncommon for us to experience days where the weather can hit the high 30’s. If the correct precautions are not taken this can result in heat stroke where the body temperature rises up to 40.5º and the body’s internal system starts to shut down. Some symptoms of heat stroke are throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, red, hot & dry skin, rapid shallow breathing, lack of sweating and unconsciousness just to name a few. These symptoms can lead to serious injury to the brain and other internal organs.
When approaching extreme weather days we need to consider the types of work that will be taking place and whether these can be re-scheduled, whether more man power needs to be hired to ensure the work is completed on time and allowing workers to take more frequent breaks.
Outdoor workers receive five to ten times more sun exposure each year than indoor workers. Spending long periods outdoors can put your workers at high risk of skin cancer.
Some ways of preventing heat illness on the work site:
- Provide shade close to the work site where possible for refuge from the direct sun and for rest periods
- Provide SPF30+ broad spectrum sun cream on site
- Ensure workers have frequent rest breaks and/or rotate duties to allow people to cool down and to limit exposure.
- Ensure adequate PPE for hot weather is worn, i.e. light breathable clothing, full brim hats etc
- Provide and encourage the use of mechanical aids
- Try to organise strenuous work for the cooler parts of the day or consider earlier starts to avoid the heat
- Provide fluids close to the work area and encourage construction workers to make up for body fluid lost through sweating. A useful “rule of thumb” is that workers should drink at least half a litre of water each hour if hot environments result in excessive sweating
- Inform and train construction workers to recognise symptoms of heat-related illness
Troubleshooters Available has a legal obligation to ensure its contractors are provided with a safe working environment. For your peace of mind and ours, our safety division, Site Safety Audits Victoria (SSAV), conducts regular site inspections throughout the year providing feedback and suggestions regarding OH&S on site.