Avoid heat stress

Working in heat check list

Working in heat can be hazardous and can cause harm to workers. As a person conducting a business or undertaking, you have a duty to keep workers and your workplace safe from the risks of working in heat. 

The human body needs to maintain a normal temperature to be healthy. Workers may suffer from heat-related illness if the body has to work too hard to keep cool or starts to overheat. 

Prevention is the best cause of action, before starting work in a hot environment, consider:

  • Are adequate supplies of palatable cool drinks available?
  • What is the major source of heat stress and how can it be mitigated (e.g. protective clothing requires particular strategies)?
  • If radiant shielding (including shade) is possible, is it in the most strategic location?
  • Is temperature monitoring equipment available at the work site?
  • Are work guidelines that are appropriate to the situation available to workers and supervisors?
  • Are first aid supplies available that are appropriate to heat/cold emergencies?
  • Has an appropriate work rate been determined, and is there sufficient manpower to stay on schedule despite a slower work pace?
  • Have supervisors been instructed to remove workers at the first sign of problems?
  • Have workers been properly and thoroughly acclimatised (or reacclimatised after a time away from the stressing environment)?
  • Is a cool recovery/rest area available?
  • Are workers and supervisors trained in recognising the symptoms, and providing first aid treatment of heat injury?
  • Is there a means of calling emergency medical support? Do workers know how and where to call emergency medical support?
  • Is the clothing appropriate (minimal obstruction of sweat evaporation and maximal protection from radiant heat i.e. use the lightest, most permeable clothing that provides adequate safety)?
  • Is the air velocity as high as practical?
  • Are workers well hydrated at the beginning of work?
  • Is spot cooling available?
  • Is microclimate cooling (e.g. cool type vests) available as needed?
  • Have workers been reminded of appropriate safety precautions?
  • Have workers who are pregnant, have relevant medical conditions or who are taking medication that increases their risk, have had previous heat injuries, and who have fever, been protected from elevated internal body temperatures?

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