Key Points:

– Heat risks are significant in Australian summers and Safework has updated their guidance.

– Changes to the advice on heat stroke include calling 000 for an ambulance

– Recent prosecutions highlight the importance of planning

– The risk of heat should be managed and significantly reduced like any risk in the workplace

 

Safe Work Australia has recently released updated their guidance material on managing the risks of working in heat.

With summer approaching, it’s a timely reminder to consider the risks and ways to manage them in your workplace.

This also follows a number of recent horticultural, mining and exploration prosecutions where workers were injured or died as a result of exposure to sustained physical exertion and heat.

The risks of dehydration and fatigue not only affect those who work long periods in direct sun, but also people working indoors or in confined spaces during heatwave periods.

When considering areas in which your workers might be exposed to these risks, it is important to consider a broad range of work environments and not just farm workers.

It may impact on workers operating machinery or vehicles with limited ventilation or no air-conditioning. Heat stroke and fatigue can also impact on workers travelling for significant periods of time or working for long durations in vehicles.

Safe Work Australia’s new guidance

Safe Work Australia has released updated guidance material on managing the risks of working in heat.

The Guide for managing the risks of working in heat now includes additions to the recommended first aid for heat stroke.

The guidance for heat stroke is to immediately call 000 and arrange for an ambulance and then a number of first aid steps, including the addition of the following:

  • If practicable and safe to do, immersion in a bath of cold water is the most effective means for cooling a person.
  • Immerse the worker (whole-body from the neck down) in a bath of cold water (preferably 1–7 Deg C) for 15 minutes. Continuously observe the worker to ensure an open airway in case of any change in their level of consciousness.

If a cold bath is not available, or is not reasonably practicable or safe to use, use a combination of the following as available:

  • cool the worker by splashing cool or cold water on their skin or sponging their skin with a damp cloth; and
  • make a wind tunnel by suspending sheets around, not on, the worker’s body; and
  • use a fan to direct gentle airflow over the worker’s body.

To download the guide go to: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/guide-managing-risks-working-heat

If you need further assistance or would be interested in a free Turf Australia member site safety audit, please contact Turf Australia or TurfPlus at admin@turfplus.com.au