There is one subject everyone in Queensland can agree on at the moment – it’s been one long, hot summer! Many employees have the ‘luxury’ of working in air-conditioning, but what about the thousands of Queenslanders working in the scorching heat? From farmers to tradespersons to emergency services personnel, these are a few of the examples of workers doing it tough right now. How hot does it have to be outside for employees to have the right to stop work?
At present Queensland is one of the only states that doesn’t have a stop work policy in place when the mercury reaches a certain temperature. However, workers are encouraged to have regular thirty minute breaks when the temperature reaches 35 degrees and higher.
Statistics have shown that the hotter the temperature, the more the increase in work-related injuries.
Employers and employees need to make sure that an adequate supply of drinking water is available. Also, they have the responsibility to purchase special clothing and personal protective equipment designed for the heat.
For a work environment to be as safe as possible during searing temperatures, it’s important that employers consider the following advice:
- Allow enough time for breaks and make sure an adequate number of breaks are taken.
- A plan is in place to treat and care for workers suffering any symptoms of heat stress.
- Encourage workers to have medical checks to determine their ability to work in hot conditions.
- Provide flexibility in work hours so the work can be conducted in the cooler part of the day or even during the night.
- Ensure suitable shade is available for workers to have protection from the heat. This includes employees having access to an already existing structure or a makeshift one that their employer provides. Shaded areas are welcoming places for escape, when it’s time for breaks, rests and meals.
It’s important to recognise the symptoms of heat exhaustion, not only for your own safety, but that of your workmates as well. Symptoms can include:
- Extreme tiredness due to the body’s reaction to losing fluid and salts.
- The feeling of dizziness and wanting to faint or collapse.
- Bad headache
- Nausea and vomiting
To manage heat exhaustion, make sure yourself or the one suffering is in a cool place and preferably lying down. Loosen or remove excess clothing. Cool skin down with a wet cloth, fan and if the person is conscious give sips of water. Call 000 for assistance.
Correct management of heat exhaustion is imperative as you don’t want the symptoms to worsen leading to heat stroke. If the casualty’s temperature is above 40 degrees and they are experiencing the above symptoms, plus difficulty breathing, 000 must be called and wait with them for further medical assistance. If possible follow the same steps as for heat stress to help cool the casualty down.
If you feel that you or a loved one has suffered the affects of a heat-related illness caused by negligence on the part of your employer, you need to contact Workcover Queensland to lodge an application for compensation. After you have done this, contact us at Personal Injury Lawyers Brisbane to see what further options may be available to you.