Beware of heat stress as Queensland temperatures soar

With a hot summer predicted and temperatures likely to soar, employers are being warned to protect workers from heat stress.

Head of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Dr Simon Blackwood said with summer here, employers need to plan ahead and protect workers from heat stress.

And to help, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has a heat stress tool on its website to predict if heat-induced illness is likely. The website also has advice on how to prevent heat stress.

“I urge bosses to look after their staff this summer and use this basic thermal risk assessment tool when it comes to heat-related illness,” Dr Blackwood said.

“Employers must provide their workers with heat and sun protection, as well as general sun safety tips. However, employees should also speak up if they are concerned that they’re working in an unsafe, hot environment.

“If you or your workmates are struggling in excessive heat or high humidity, don’t stall – talk to your supervisor immediately.

“Employers must ensure workers wear protective gear including a hat and sunscreen, take adequate breaks, seek shade and keep hydrated to prevent heat exhaustion, heat stroke, fainting and cramps.”

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s Managing the work environment and facilities code of practice provides guidance for managing the risks associated with outdoor work.

The risk is not only related to the temperature, but rather a combination offactors which contribute to heat-related problems at work. These include:

  • Exposure to direct sunlight, especially during the hottest part of the day.
  • Exposure to reflected heat from construction materials, polished aluminium and glass.
  • Carrying out strenuous tasks or work for sustained long periods.
  • Exposure to additional heat from machinery.
  • Inadequate cooling off, rest periods or insufficient water consumption.
  • Climatic conditions (low air movement, high humidity, high temperature).
  • Inappropriate clothing.
  • Factors that may cause dehydration such as poor diet, vomiting, diarrhoea or alcohol and caffeine consumption.

For more information on protecting your workers this summer, visit www.worksafe.qld.gov.au or call the WHSQ Infoline on 1300 369 915.

Back to Articles