Summer work safety tips: stay cool while working hard
With summer fast approaching, Australian businesses need to mitigate sun and heat-related hazards to avoid productivity losses and to look after their employees’ health and well-being.
Construction and mining employers need to pay special attention to summer safety procedures, as these industries’ operations routinely expose workers to the elements for prolonged periods of time.
So, what are the essential worker health and safety areas that must not be overlooked during the hot summer months?
Reduce heat exposure through smarter workload planning
When the temperature goes up, it’s best to ensure that the most physically demanding and labour-intensive tasks are not scheduled for the hottest time of the day (usually early afternoon).
When possible, outdoor work should be scheduled for earlier morning or later afternoon to reduce sun and heat exposure.
If you have limited flexibility when it comes to working hours, rotating jobs between different team members can be really helpful in reducing their sun exposure.
Also, during the hotter months, every effort should be made to identify all the tasks that can be automated and semi-automated to minimise the need for manual labour that exposes workers to extreme heat.
Be sun smart
The best way to protect yourself from the sun is to try and work in the shade during summer as much as possible. If a work task must be performed outdoors, consider using the shade provided by trees – or putting a sail over the work site.
Wearing loose, lightweight long-sleeve work clothing along with sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat provides optimal sun protection.
Staying hydrated is one of the most important steps in your summer safety routine.
You should remember that the recommended water intake – currently 8 to 10 glasses a day – is calculated based on mild weather conditions. On the days when you are performing physically demanding work outside in hot conditions, you should aim to drink more, as you need to make up for the water your body loses through perspiration.
Caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea and colas further dehydrate your body – and so does alcohol. Such drinks should be avoided during the workday when the weather is hot.
Watch out for the signs of heat damage to your body
Even despite all the precautions, Australian summer can be unforgiving – so you should always watch out for the signs that your body is overheated. The sooner you stop, hydrate, and let your body cool itself, the less damaging the effect on both your body and productivity is going to be.
So, it’s really best to resist the temptation of finishing things up quickly before taking a break if your body signals that you really need one.
Below we list the important signs that tell you that your body is overheating and you need to stop and cool down before continuing your work.
The first signs warning you that your body is not coping well with the heat include heavy perspiration, fatigue, dizziness, and headache. You can also experience rapid heartbeat, nausea, muscle cramps, and extreme lightheadedness to the point of fainting. Sometimes goosebumps appear on your skin as you develop a low-grade fever. Your vision may also be affected – you may experience blurred or “blacked out” vision.
Preventing and treating heat exhaustion
Fortunately, it’s quite simple to prevent serious heat damage to your body. Getting out of the hot conditions and direct sun exposure at the first warning signs, drinking plenty of cold water, removing excess clothing – all of these basic measures are very effective.
Applying a damp, cool towel to the back of your neck is another easy, practical measure that provides additional relief by quickly cooling your body through evaporation.
If you do not act in time to lower your body temperature, heat exhaustion can eventually develop into a serious heat stroke. This is a potentially fatal condition where your body systems start shutting down because of extreme overheating. Affected people may be confused, with reddened skin and no perspiration, experience seizures, and become unconscious.
While you should always take every effort to cool down yourself or another heat-affected person as quickly as possible, serious cases of heat stroke are an emergency for which you should seek urgent medical attention by calling 000.
Providing proper working conditions and having sound workplace safety practices in place – during the summer months as well as all year round – are the best ways to look after your workers’ health and wellbeing. At Synaco by Synergie, we make sure that we partner with employers who value their workers’ health and safety as much as we do.
We work hard to find the best possible match for you
We strive to partner with clients who truly share our goals. This is why our employees can enjoy safe and healthy working conditions across a wide range of industries.
Working hard to meet our clients’ requirements, the recruitment processes that we have in place are aimed at achieving the best possible match between our clients and employees. Being present, open and accountable in our dealings with candidates and clients is the strategy that ensures Synaco by Synergie’s continued success.
We make sure to spend ample time in the field, with our representatives attending pre-start and safety meetings and holding regular work area inspections. We also conduct necessary pre-site and on-site inductions, assessments, and training.
So, partner with us at Synaco by Synergie today and let us assist you with your next career move – then see what difference our professional, caring approach makes. You can browse our list of vacancies here.