Heat Stress – Manage the hazard!

07-03-2018

Australians have a deep love for the sun culture; our ‘sunburnt land’ is known the world over for our beaches and bronzed bodies. During the warmer months, Australians spend more time exposed to potentially lethal UV rays which presents a hazard requiring constant attention by leaders.

While this can be the best time of year to work through projects, the sun presents as a lethal acute and chronic hazard. The cancer council of Australia reports the following statistics annually within Australia.

  • skin cancers account for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers
  • the majority of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun
  • GPs have over 1 million patient consultations per year for skin cancer
  • the incidence of skin cancer is one of the highest in the world, two to three times the rates in Canada, the US and the UK.

Proactive risk management strategies which SafetyZone OHS Consultants commonly recommend include:

  • Train employees to recognise the early symptoms of heat stress (fatigue, itchy skin, headaches, dark urine) in themselves and others;
  • Provide SPF 50+ sunscreen, keep it cool and ensure its’ within expiry date;
  • Ensure clean, cool drinking water is provided as well as a source of electrolytes (such as a staminade / powerade etc. powder);
  • Promote the use of breathable, natural fibres in clothing worn for work as well as full brim hats;
  • Ensure your first aiders are currently trained and have a planned course of action (including equipment at hand) if heat stress is reported; and
  • Implement a regular schedule of skin health checks for workers exposed to UV as part of their operations.

Contact our team of highly skilled OHS Consultants to discuss how your work practices can be assessed to ensure ongoing compliance and implementation of heat stress management measures at your workplace.