• Amount of air movement
• Radiant temperature of surroundings
• Physical activity (metabolic heat load).
Heat illness covers a range of medical conditions that can arise when the body is unable to properly cope with working in heat. These conditions include:
• Heat stroke – a life threatening condition that requires immediate first aid and medical attention
• Heat exhaustion
• Heat cramps
• Rashes (also called prickly heat)
• Heat fatigue
• Worsening of pre-existing illnesses and conditions.
Signs and symptoms of heat illness include feeling sick, nauseous, dizzy or weak. Clumsiness, collapse and convulsions may also be experienced as a result of heat illness. Workers with these signs or symptoms need to seek immediate medical attention. Workplace health and safety laws require the working environment to be safe and without risks to health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable. This applies to any risk to health and safety, including illness from working in heat.
A commonly used and recognised index is the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT). The WBGT takes into account air temperature, radiant heat, humidity and air movement. Adjustments are also made to take into account things such as physical workload, clothing and work organisation. If a risk of heat illness is identified, control measures need to be put in place. Workers considered at risk due to factors such as pre-existing conditions should be assessed by a doctor.
The risk can also be minimised by modifying workload. This may include:
• Rescheduling work so the hot tasks are performed during the cooler part of the day • doing the work at a different location
• Wearing light clothing that still provides adequate protection
• Reducing the time spent doing hot tasks (eg job rotation)
• Arranging for more workers to do the job
• Providing extra rest breaks in a cool area
• Using mechanical aids to reduce physical exertion
Other measures for preventing heat illness include:
• Keeping people away from hot processes
• Allowing workers to acclimatise
• Providing cool drinking water near the work site. During hot weather, workers should be encouraged to drink a cup of water (about 200 mL) every 15 to 20 minutes and not rely solely on soft drinks or caffeinated drinks
• Providing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as reflective aprons and face shields for reducing exposure to radiant heat. Outdoor workers should be provided with protection against ultraviolet exposure, such as wide brim hat, loose fitting, long-sleeved collared (preferably cotton) shirt and long pants, sunglasses and sunscreen
To see the full fact sheet, please click on the link below.
Source: Workcover NSW