Assessing the workplace
Air temperature is the major factor in assessing hot working conditions. Humidity, air movement, reflected heat and other factors, although important, are secondary to temperature - temperature should be used as the trigger for "action".
What can be done to make working in heat safe?
There are a number of measures that can be taken to protect workers in hot conditions, including:.
(a) Indoor Work Requirements
- Installation of quiet fans, ventilators on air conditioning systems to lower temperature (and increase air movement);
- Water sprays (where practicable);
- Open windows and doors to allow free air movement;
- Insulation of heat making equipment eg. Boilers, ovens, ironers etc;
- Extraction ventilation around heat-producing equipment;
- Roof and wall insulation of work areas;
- Use of shade cloths;
- Provision of air conditioned rest areas.
NOTE: No new heat producing process/equipment should be introduced into the workplace unless adequate precautions are taken to deal with the heat produced.
b) Outdoor Work Requirements
- Suitable lightweight protective clothing (clothing must also give the body adequate ventilation);
- Suitable UV protection including sunburn creams, skin protectors, hats and sunglasses;
- Air conditioned vehicles and rest areas.
c) Other Measures Applicable to Both Indoor & Outdoor Work
- Workplace temperature monitoring;
- Provision of additional rest breaks;
- Provision of cool drinks;
- Redeployment to 'lighter' alternative work;
- Reduction of work rates to a slower pace;
- Rescheduling of heavy work to other (cooler) days or cooler periods of the day.
All new work areas should be designed to ensure that temperature is adequately controlled, a working temperature below 30°C is recommended.
Protection against Ultra-violet radiation
It is recognised that Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world and it is well established that exposure to UVR from the sun is the major cause. Long term exposure to the sun is also associated with damage to the eyes resulting in the development of degenerative changes to the eyes.
Skin and eye damage from UVR can be reduced by the adoption of sun protection practices.
Workplace policy statement for protection against exposure to heat stress & solar ultraviolet radiation
In accordance with The Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act, 1986, Flinders University aims to provide a safe working environment.
This policy aims to reduce employees' exposure to heat stress & UVR from the sun by implementing appropriate occupational health control strategies. To that end, the following will apply within the Buildings & Grounds Maintenance sections:
- Where possible work will be carried out in shaded areas or temporary shade will be erected.
- Where possible, work that must occur in the direct sun will be scheduled before 11am or after 3pm (daylight saving time). Daily start/finish times may be varied seasonally to maximise total outside working hours.
- When ambient temperatures in direct sun exceed 30°C, unshaded outside work is to cease and staff are to continue on tasks either in shaded areas or within buildings.
- When ambient temperatures in shaded areas or within buildings exceed 36°C, staff are to be re-directed to tasks that can be undertaken in air-conditioned areas. This may include the ceasing of physical activity with the substitution of administrative and planning tasks.
- Where, in the Maintenance Superintendent's opinion, conditions have become oppressive, the Superintendent will have the discretion to allow staff to cease all work for the day. Temperature alone will not necessarily be the deciding factor, other conditions such as humidity levels and the duration of hot weather conditions will be taken into account.
- Where vital or emergency repair work must continue in hot conditions, the Superintendent and supervisors are to closely monitor the situation and ensure the provision of adequate rest breaks and cool drinks.
- At all times (including cool and overcast days) staff who are working outdoors will protect themselves against UVR by wearing approved hats, sunglasses, clothing and applying 15 broad spectrum sunscreen.
- Flinders University will provide appropriate hats, sunglasses, clothing and 15 sunscreen.
- Monitor weather and heat conditions and schedule work accordingly.
- Plan for, and provide, suitable alternative tasks in accordance with the 'General Guidelines'.
- Ensure staff under their direction wear appropriate UVR protection.
- Provide appropriate rest breaks as local workplace conditions dictate.
- Wear appropriate UVR protection at all times.
- Advise their Supervisor of any medical condition that may be aggravated by hot conditions.
- Undertake alternative duties as directed by their Supervisor.
The Maintenance Superintendent will include sun protection issues in any future strategic plans and plans for environmental or workplace changes.
The Maintenance Superintendent will include heat and sun protection procedures in any induction process for new employees.