We are almost right in the middle of summer here in Australia. As this season is welcomed by some with open arms, it comes as no surprise that we are now being warned of some of the dangers associated with this time of year, in particular heat dangers in the workplace.
Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) has just issued a warning to guard against heat stress at work. WorkSafe WA Commissioner Darren Kavanagh sent a timely reminder to employers in recent days to take extra care during these coming days and months to avoid exposure to serious risks. “The increased sweating caused by heat depletes the body’s fluids and can lead to the symptoms of heat stress – tiredness, irritability, inattention and muscular cramps. These symptoms don’t just cause physical discomfort, they may also increase the risk of workplace injuries by taking a worker’s attention away from the task at hand, and this is a major concern.” Some of the simple steps that can be taken to avoid or mitigate such risks include; drinking cool clean water regularly, pause work to rest in a cool environment and reorganising work-related tasks to take place during the cooler periods of the day such as early morning and late afternoon.
When it comes to recreational activities, we have been reminded for decades now to slip, slop, slap and wear a hat. As more importance is placed on workplace safety, messages such as these from Mr Kavanagh should also become part of the common dialogue during the summer months. “Guarding against heat stress and heat stroke is part of providing a safe and healthy workplace, and I urge employers to ensure that preventative measures are in place.”