Employers have a legal duty to ensure the wellbeing, health and safety of their employees while at work. Continued exposure to heat can lead to major health issues which, in severe cases, can be fatal. Employers should take any necessary remedial action to protect employees from the symptoms of heat exposure and heat stroke. Managers and employees should be provided with adequate training, information and supervision, so that they are not exposed to the ill-effects of heat exposure and heat stroke, and understand the symptoms of heat exposure and heat stroke and the recognised and accepted techniques for preventing symptoms from occurring.
If an employee displays symptoms of heat exposure or heat stroke while working, the employee should be immediately taken to the nearest appropriate medical facility, where the employee can receive proper medical treatment.
When Temperature is 37 degrees and Above
Affected employees will be withdrawn from working on site and go home.
When employees leave site and go home in accordance with this policy, the inclement weather provisions of the Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010 or any relevant enterprise agreement will cover entitlements for payment.
Temperatures will be measured by the nearest automatic Bureau of Meteorology Monitoring Station.
When Temperature is Between 35 and 37 Degrees
Employees are to be transferred to an area unaffected by heat, where work can continue by utiling discomfort minimisation procedures as set out below. If this is not possible, employees should be shedded up in an air conditioned site shed, until the temperature falls to an acceptable working level.
If, after consultation, it is agreed that work be discontinued, then only affected employees who cannot be transferred to a cooler environment will be permitted to go home.
As Temperature Reaches 35 Degrees
Work Continues as normal however, action should be taken to minimise discomfort and monitor conditions. Discomfort minimisation actions should include, where possible:
- Rescheduling work so that tasks are performed in cooler parts of the day
- Job rotation to reduce the amount of direct exposure to heat
- Provision of temporary shade and electric fans
- Scheduled hourly drink breaks of approximately 5-10 minutes in shade
- Provision of cool drinking water
- Air conditioned site sheds
- Provision of extra and regular work breaks in cooler areas
- Provision of extra PPE such as, sunscreen, hard hat brims and sunglasses
- Use of mechanical aids to reduce physical exertion
Employees should not become thirsty. Employees should drink between 100-200ml of water approximately between every 15-20 minutes.
Employees should avoid drinks that might dehydrate them, such as coffee, tea, coke and other caffeinated soft drinks.
Employees should wear light coloured, loose fitted clothing made of natural fibres.
Should an employee complain of heat exposure symptoms before the temperatures above have been reached, the employer has a legal duty and obligation to remove the employee from site and seek medical attention.
Work in Air Conditioned Environment
All works conducted in an air conditioned environment shall continue as normal.
Symptoms of Exposure to Heat
Symptoms of Heat Exposure are:
Clammy Skin, Rapid Pulse, Confusion, Vomiting, Light-headedness, Weakness, Fainting, Short temper, Slurred speech, Fatigue, Nausea, Loss of concentration
Symptoms of Heat Stroke include:
Staggering walk, Mental confusion, Hot skin, High temperature but feeling cold, Convulsions, Unconsciousness, Incoherence, Deliriousness