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Heat

Hazard, Risk and Remedy information adapted from Safe Work Australia material. Definition of heat herein may not represent a legal definition.

Workers carrying out work in extreme heat or cold must be able to carry out work without a risk to their health and safety so far as is reasonably practicable.

The risk to the health of workers increases as conditions move further away from those generally accepted as comfortable. Heat strain can arise from working in high air temperatures, exposure to high thermal radiation or high levels of humidity, such as those in foundries, commercial kitchens and laundries.

Risks

Risks of heat strain include; dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea, breathlessness, clammy skin or difficulty remaining alert. There have been instances where heat strain has caused fatalities.

Remedy

Work should be carried out in an environment where a temperature range is comfortable for workers and suits the work they carry out. A risk management approach using an approved Code of Practice (see tools section below) should be taken.

Thermal comfort is affected by many factors, including air temperature, air movement, floor temperature, humidity, clothing, the amount of physical exertion, average temperature of the surroundings and sun penetration.

Optimum comfort for sedentary work is between 20 and 26 degrees Celsius, if it is not possible to eliminate exposure to extreme heat, the risk of heat strain and heat exhaustion must be minimised so far as is reasonably practicable. For example:

  • Increase air movement using fans
  • Install air-conditioners or evaporative coolers to lower air temperature
  • Isolate workers from indoor heat sources, for example by insulating plant, pipes and walls
  • Remove heated air or steam from hot processes using local exhaust ventilation
  • Use mechanical aids to assist in carrying out manual tasks
  • Alter work schedules so that work is done at cooler times

The following control measures should also be considered but are least effective if used on their own:

  • Slow down the pace of work if possible
  • Provide a supply of cool drinking water
  • Provide a cool, well-ventilated area where workers can take rest breaks
  • Provide opportunities for workers who are not used to working in hot conditions to acclimatise, for example job rotation and regular rest breaks
  • Ensure light clothing is worn to allow free movement of air and sweat evaporation

Resources

Information SourceContents
Code of Practice - How to Manage Work Health and Safety RisksThis code provides practical guidance for persons who have duties under the WHS Act and Regulations to manage risks to health and safety
Code of Practice – Managing the Work Environment and FacilitiesRisk management strategy specifically focusing on the work environment. Please note this is guidance only and not a legislative instrument.
Comcare – Dr Matt Brearley Presentation - Managing heat stress in tropical environmentsPresentation slides performed during Comcare's 'Remote Workers' campaign
UK Health & Safety Executive - Heat stress

UK Health & Safety Executive - Heat stress risk assessment

UK Health & Safety Executive - Thermal comfort

General information on managing risks involving heat in the work environment

Notifications

Information sourceWhat it contains
Incident notification - Part 3, Section 35 to 37 of the Work, Health and Safety Act 2011The legislative requirements for incident notification to Comcare
Comcare - Guide to incident notificationHelps you decide whether you need to notify Comcare of an injury, illness or dangerous incident under the WHS Act
Page last updated: 05 May 2017