Heat stress risk heightens employer responsibility

Date: Nov 23, 2015

As we near the end of November, most workers are starting to think about the long holiday ahead. However, one element of summer is already here – high temperatures.

On Friday (November 20), Sydney CBD topped 41 degrees, while metropolitan Sydney recorded a scorching 42.8 degrees, The Guardian reported. The city narrowly avoided its hottest-ever November temperature, but with summer yet to officially start, the mercury is expected to soar again soon.

For those heading to the beach, these temperatures are ideal, but for workers on construction sites or operating in confined spaces, this time of year presents a serious occupational health and safety risk. As such, SafeWork NSW has reminded employers of their responsibility to manage the risk of heat stress or heat illness.

Between July 2011 and July 2014, SafeWork NSW found here were more than 200 worker compensation claims as a result of heat-related medical issues.

Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy explained why the heat is such an important workplace hazard to monitor during the summer months.

“They can reduce a worker’s performance and productivity, plus increase the chance of injury by reducing the ability to concentrate, recognise risks and communicate effectively,” he said.

“During the hottest months outdoor workers and those working in hot environments such as roof spaces or other confined areas are the most at risk. That’s why everyone should keep an eye out for each other and work together to minimise the effect of heat.”

How can employers help their workers?

As leaders set the schedules, workloads and break times, employers have a large say in protecting their team from the effects of heat stroke. Mr Dunphy believes that management have a responsibility to their employees to ensure they come home safe at the end of the day.

For example, business leaders could schedule certain tasks during the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the hottest weather periods.

Workplace illness compensation

Heat-related illnesses can result in organ failure and death, making it a serious workplace issue during this time of the year in particular. As such, if you believe that your employer hasn’t provided adequate safe working conditions and you suffer the effects, you could be eligible for compensation.

Of course, it is important to first seek medical treatment and assess the manner of your illness. After this point, a compensation lawyer can help you through the TPD claims process.

These lawyers operate on a no win no fee basis so they can advise you on your chances for success free of charge.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.