Were you safe at work during the recent heat wave?

Date: Dec 05, 2012

As most NSW residents will know, the state was recently struck by some scorching weather with a heat wave rolling through the Blue Mountains and Western Sydney.

While a heat wave is a sure sign that summer has well and truly arrived, sun-happy Australians were warned not to get too excited about the high temperatures.

Heat waves can pose a threat to people’s health and wellness, so everyone was encouraged to stay out of the sun, keep hydrated and take extra precautions to ensure that they were not affected by heat illness or heat stroke.

WorkCover NSW issued a press release advising people to be careful and shared some tips for safety in the workplace during this time.

“Employers and workers, especially those working in heat-related conditions, need to remain vigilant to the risks of working in high temperatures given it is expected to be warmer than average across south eastern Australia for the next few days,” WorkCover general manager of the workplace health and safety division John Watson said in a statement.

While the particular heat wave that Mr Watson was referring to has been and gone, the advice he gave to employers and workers was very useful and could come in handy next time a heat wave strikes.

He suggested that people try and avoid working during the hottest times of the day, scheduling work for early morning or late afternoon if possible.

Where this was not an option, he advised employers to “ensure that workers have access to plain drinking water (at least 200mL every 15-20mins), shaded rest areas and regular rest breaks”.

The main reason employers and workers need to be very vigilant during hot weather is that heat illness is very dangerous, and in some circumstances, can be fatal.

It is therefore important to prevent this type of illness from occurring. Workers may like to know that there are compensation lawyers in Sydney who may be able to help them make a claim if they are the victim of heat illness in the workplace.

In the meantime, to prepare for the summer and the next bout of hot weather, workers and employers could benefit from familiarising themselves with the symptoms of heat illness.

“Common symptoms of dangerous heat illness may include nausea, dizziness, general weakness and collapse. If you or your workers are working in a hot environment and have any of these symptoms, you should seek immediate medical assistance,” Mr Watson advised.

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