Mine sites across Australia are being urged to take extra care this year to avoid heat stress. When preparing for work in heat mining companies should be closely monitoring the Bureau of Meteorology predicting above-average daytime temperatures in the months ahead.
Employers need to plan ahead now and protect workers from heat stress hazards. A Heat stress (basic) calculator tool is now available to predict if heat-induced illness is likely to occur.
Mineworkers should be provided with heat and sun protection, as well as having general sun safety tips explained to them. If they’re not clear, have trouble understanding, or are concerned they’re working in an unsafe, hot environment, workers should be encouraged to speak up.
If you or your workmates are struggling in excessive heat or high humidity, don’t stall – talk to your supervisor immediately. Mine sites must ensure workers wear protective gear, including a hat and sunscreen, take adequate breaks, seek shade and keep hydrated to prevent heat exhaustion, heatstroke, fainting and cramps.
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Heat stress risk is not just related to temperature – there are a combination of factors which contribute to heat-related problems at work, including:
- exposure to direct sunlight, especially during the hottest part of the day
- exposure to reflected heat from construction materials, polished aluminium and glass
- carrying out strenuous tasks or work for sustained long periods
- exposure to additional heat from machinery
- inadequate cooling off, rest periods or insufficient water consumption
- climatic conditions (low air movement, high humidity, high temperature)
- inappropriate clothing
- factors that may cause dehydration such as poor diet, vomiting, diarrhoea or alcohol and caffeine consumption.
By implementing some simple suggestions, you can help avoid heat stress and stay safe at work.
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