Blog

The risks of working in heat

By Jonathan Ivanisevic and Jason Down / 15 October 2020

With warmer weather approaching, it is vital that if workers are going to be working in the heat, that a person conducting a business or undertaking has a plan in place to manage the risks associated with working in the heat. 

This is especially pertinent as the Bureau of Meteorology has forecast that from November to January the days are very likely to be warmer than average in parts of Australia.

Heat-related illnesses can be serious and, in some cases, can result in death. 

Heat-related illnesses can manifest in many ways, including dehydration, reduced concentration, heatstroke, fainting, heat cramps and heat exhaustion. 

A person conducting a business or undertaking has a duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that workers, including volunteers, are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the business or undertaking. This includes the health and safety risks of working in the heat. 

While every workplace is different, some examples of the risks that a person conducting a business or undertaking may need to consider in relation to the hazard of working in the heat includes: 

  • where, when and for how long is the work being done; 
  • the nature of the work, the characteristics (health, fitness etc.) of the worker; 
  • what the worker is required to wear; 
  • the weather; 
  • will other workers be present; and 
  • access to emergency services and access to amenities (cool water, shade, cooling devices etc.).

Any plan to manage the risks of working in heat will need to be specific to each person’s circumstances. However, the process to prepare the plan remains the same: 

  1. identify the hazard;
  2. assess the risk;
  3. control the risk; and 
  4. continually monitor and review the control measures.

Should you require any assistance in managing of the risks of working in heat, please feel free to contact Jonathan Ivanisevic or Jason Down.

Safework Australia also has guidance on managing the risks of working in heat. 

Authors
Jonathan Ivanisevic
Partner
Jonathan is a Partner in our Dispute Resolution practice and also the lead Partner of our Health and Safety practice.
Jason Down
Special Counsel
Jason is a Special Counsel in our Dispute Resolution practice.

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