Working in hot weather safety includes identifying Thermal hazards that may exist in your workplace. Identifying heat hazards in the workplace and taking adequate control measures to reduce risk, can help increase safety of workers and avoid dehydration in the workplace.
Thermal Hazard Checklist
We've compiled a checklist for each potential thermal hazard that could occur in the workplace.
- Does the air feel warm or hot?
- Does the temperature in the workplace fluctuate during a normal working day?
- Does the temperature in the workplace change a lot during hot or cold seasonal variations?
- Is there a heat source in the environment?
- Is there any equipment that produces steam?
- Is the workplace affected by external weather conditions?
- Are your employees wearing PPE that is vapour impermeable?
- Do your employees complain that the air is too dry?
- Do your employees complain that the air is humid?
- Is work rate moderate to intensive in warm or hot conditions?
- Are employees sedentary in cool or cold environments?
- Is PPE being worn that protects against harmful toxins, chemicals, asbestos, flames, extreme heat, etc?
- Can employees make individual alterations to their clothing in response to the thermal environment?
- Is respiratory protection being worn?
What do Your Employees Think?
- Do your employees think that there is a thermal comfort problem?
- Is cold or warm air blowing directly into the work space?
- Are employees complaining of draught?
Thermal Hazard Controls
There are numerous factors to consider to minimise the risk of working in hot environments. Below are a range of occupational health and safety (OHS) controls that can be used to minimise the incidence of dehydration and heat stress at work.
Elimination and substitution
- Scheduling work not to be performed in the hottest part of the day
- Removal or substitution of objects from work environments that generate heat
- Removal or substitution of objects from the work environment that reflect and radiate heat
Engineering and Isolation
- Use of fans and blowers to circulate air
- Use of ventilation systems to help air flow around workers
- Use of barriers to help workers keep distance from heat sources
Administrative: hydration and shade
- Readily access to adequate water supply for all workers
- Readily access to electrolytes and education on the correct use of electrolytes
- Shaded and/or cool areas for workers to take break
- Training of workers to detect the signs of dehydration and heat stress in themselves and co-workers implementing work rest cycles where necessary
- Pacing work of employees
- Use of educational materials such as posters to reinforce dangers of heat stress
- Use of urine check cards, so workers can monitor levels of dehydration by the colour of their urine regular toolbox sessions to remind workers of dangers of heat stress
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Use of evaporative cooling PPE products such as cooling neck ties and hard hat inserts
- Use of phase changing cooling PPE, such as ice vests