Working in Hot Conditions

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Working in hot conditions and high temperatures  can have an effect on the body in several different ways, from sunburn and dehydration to more serious conditions such as heat stroke and skin cancer. Fatigue and heat stress can also increase chance of injury by reducing ability to concentrate and focus, recognise risks and communicate properly.

Some things are common sense, but it’s great to have a reminder to look after yourselves and others you are working with.

Tips for working in the heat:

  1. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids particularly water. Master Builders Association recommends drinking ‘200ml every 15-20mins’. Your morning coffee, plus sweating in the heat means you need to drink a lot more water to stay hydrated. If you are a supervisor, try to ensure your workers have access to drinking water.
  1. Sunscreen: Sunscreen will wear off, particularly if you are sweating. It is recommended that you reapply every 2-4 hours, using a high SPF sunscreen to block harmful UV rays. Remember those easy to forget areas such as the back of the neck and ears. A SPF lip balm will also help against burning and dry lips.
  1. Cover-Up: It’s best to have as many barriers as possible against the sun to avoid sunburn and exposure to harmful rays. Loose fit, long pants and sleeves are best, as well as a hat! Lighter colours will help with keeping cool.
  1. Shade & Rest: Despite the above precautions, it’s still important to take seek cover. Try to set up canopies or awnings where you are working. If you are supervising, provide your employees the equipment to do this. Allow the team to take regular rest breaks to get out of the direct sun and cool down. The Master Painters Australia Association NSW recommends completing ‘outdoor tasks during the earlier morning hours or the later evening hours. When you do have to work through the heat of the day, try to rotate your crews and share the work to reduce individual worker sun and heat exposure’

 

Heat Illness:

Signs: Feeling sick, nauseous, dizzy, weak, clumsiness, collapse and convulsions.

What to do: If someone shows signs of heat stress. (unionsafe.org.au)

  • First take the sufferer to a cooler area (for example, an air-conditioned shed or vehicle).
  • Then remove excess clothing (hard hat, boots, shirt).
  • Give water to drink, if conscious.
  • Allow the person to rest if they are suffering from heat exhaustion.
  • If the person is suffering from heat stroke they should be cooled with water, cold compresses, and/or rapid fanning. A person suffering from heat stroke should be taken to a medical facility for further cooling and monitoring of body functions.

Working during the summer in high temperatures can be tough, but with the right planning and precautions it can be manageable and safe!