Unions are issuing an essential health warning to NSW workers after the Bureau of Meteorology advised heat wave conditions for much of this week with temperatures tipped to reach over 40 degrees in some parts of the state. 

Temperatures over 36 degrees can cause huge problems for the human beings’ balancing mechanisms and this is without the added stress of undertaking work.

Heat stress can injure and kill so it is important to take extra precautions when working during the summer months especially in these extraordinarily high temperatures.

Unions NSW is advising workers to follow some simple measures to ensure they stay healthy in the heat by:

  • Staying well hydrated;
  • Avoiding alcohol and hot or sugary drinks;
  • Limiting physical activity; and,
  • Trying to stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day.
  • If you can, it's a good idea to spend some time in an air-conditioned building.

Unions NSW Acting Secretary Mark Morey said outside manual work should be minimised or avoided.

“If outside work is unavoidable please consider yielding work between the hours of 12pm and 3pm.

“Whether you are working inside or outside it is important to remain hydrated. Your water intake is heightened when working in heat. Remember that energy drinks are high in caffeine and sugar and may not hydrate you to the level needed when working in heat,” Mr Morey said.

“If you really have to work in the heat reduce your workload and structure extra breaks and hydration breaks into your daily schedule.

“While sun protection should be applied all year round, apply extra protection in these circumstances.

“Be cautious. Look for the signs of heat stress on yourself and your work colleagues.”

Heatstroke symptoms include:

  • High body temperature. A body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher is the main sign of heatstroke.
  • Altered mental state or behavior.
  • Alteration in sweating.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Flushed skin.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Racing heart rate.
  • Headache.

REMEMBER: Your employer under the Work Health and Safety Act has a responsibility to provide you with a safe workplace, environment and systems of work. You also have the ability to cease work yourself, and your Health and Safety Representative has the ability to direct you to cease work if your safety is at risk.

For more detailed heat risk management information go to: 

UnionSafe

ACTU Safe@Work

SafeWork NSW Code of Practice

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