Weather forecast brings a heated warning for workplaces

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WITH the weather predicted to reach to more than 40C on Thursday (December 19), UnionsACT is issuing a work health and safety alert. 

Hot weather is a workplace safety issue and working in high temperatures can have serious health impacts for working people, according to UnionsACT.

The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting a top temperature of 32C for today, 34C for Tuesday, 38C for Wednesday, 41C for Thursday, 38C for Friday and 43C for Saturday.

“Working in heat is a serious workplace safety issue, not just for people working outdoors, but also for a range of work indoors, including in aged care facilities, offices, and retail and hospitality,” says UnionsACT secretary Alex White.

Alex White
UnionsACT secretary Alex White.

“There is more to working in heat than just the temperature, and the health impacts can be very serious. Heat stroke is potentially life-threatening.

UnionsACT say symptoms of heat stress and dehydration from working in hot weather can cause serious health problems, including nausea, fainting, weakness, dizziness, headache and impaired mental function.

Mr White says employers have legal obligations to workers to ensure the health and safety of employees, and this includes working in hot weather and during heat waves. This obligation for employers extends to all workplaces, including offices, restaurants and retail stores, not just work outdoors.

Employers also have an obligation to provide protective clothing and equipment, and to reduce risks of injury from hot weather, for example, providing sun-hats, sun-cream, plentiful drinking water, fans and air conditioning, he says.

“Canberra is facing heat-wave, so it is important for employers to understand their legal obligations regarding worker health and safety. Community organisations also have duties of care to volunteers,” Mr White says.

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