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Stay sun safe for summer

Workplaces need to take extra care this summer to protect staff when they are out working in the heat and humidity to help protect them from heat stress.

Heat stress is a real issue and employers need to plan ahead to protect workers.

Workers must be provided with heat and sun protection. They must also have sun safety tips explained to them. However, if they’re not clear, have trouble understanding, or are concerned they’re working in an unsafe, hot environment, workers are encouraged to speak up.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s Carolyn Topping, Director of Occupational Health and Hygiene said: “Employers must look after their workers by ensuring they wear protective gear, including a hat and sunscreen, take regular breaks and seek shade.

“Look to alternative tasks where possible; tasks which can be done in cooler, shaded areas of your workplace. Then rotate staff so no-one is spending too long in the sun.

“It’s also vital everyone keeps hydrated to prevent heat exhaustion, heat stroke, fainting and cramps.”

Carolyn said heat stress risk isn’t solely related to temperature. There’s a combination of factors which contribute to heat-related problems at work, including:

  • 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.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has an easy to use heat stress calculator on its website.

“Using this tool, you can predict when heat-induced illness is likely to occur and advice on how to prevent heat stress.

“The Bureau of Meteorology also has an easy to access Heatwave Service available at www.bom.gov.au/australia/heatwave.”

Further information on working in heat is at worksafe.qld.gov.au

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