Safe Work Australia (SWA) has offered advice to managers on how to handle heat risks facing their staff.
Pointedly, the guide is addressed to any person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), highlighting their responsibility under Work Health and Safety regulations.
The same goes for company officers, such as directors.
The ‘Managing the risks of working in heat – guidance material’ document notes three PCBU duties: primary duty of care (WHS Act section 19); Duty to consult (WHS Act section 49); Duty in relation to general workplace facilities (WHS Regulation 40).
PCBUs and officers “must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that workers, including volunteers, and other people are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the business or undertaking,” the advice stated.
“This duty requires the person to manage health and safety risks by eliminating them so far as is reasonably practicable, and if this is not reasonably practicable, by minimising those risks so far as is reasonably practicable. ”
They should consult workers when:
identifying hazards and assessing risks to health and safety arising from the work carried out or to be carried out by the business or undertaking
making decisions about ways to eliminate or minimise those risks
making decisions about the adequacy of facilities for the welfare of workers
monitoring the conditions at any workplace under the management or control of the PCBU.
PCBU and officers must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that ventilation enables workers to carry out work without risk to health and safety and workers carrying out work in extremes of heat or cold are able to carry out work without risk to health and safety.
Read about SWA data on T&L fatalities, here
“You must consult your workers and their health and safety representatives (if any) when deciding how to manage the risks of working in heat,” the document stated.
“If there is more than one business or undertaking at your workplace you must consult each one to find out who is doing what and work together so risks are eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.”
While the freight transport and logistics sector, like others, is not addressed specifically, some aspects it noted are relevant.
This included that workers on performance-based salaries are generally less likely to reduce their work rate to prevent over exertion, the fatigue effects of heat-waves and the susceptibility of older workers both naturally and due to their medication.
The document can be found here.
For information on thermal comfort, where a worker is comfortable at a particular temperature, see the Code of Practice: Managing the work environment and facilities, here.