New Year Restart and Working in the Heat

The holiday season is over and it’s time to get back into the swing of things. Coming back to work and reopening your site is just as important as shutting it down. The New Year is the perfect opportunity to refocus and set the tone for the year ahead. Coming back to work after a couple of weeks off can give some people a serious case of Mondayitis, so consider taking the following steps on the first day back:

  • Instead of rushing and getting stuck into it, hold a kick-off toolbox to re-brief the crew on the SSSP, emergency arrangements, SWMS, and check everyone is fit for work.
  • Complete a Site Review to identify any new hazards.
    • Inspect the site to ensure everything was how you left it – fences are still in place, and containers are locked.
  • Reinstate any areas that need attention – inspect and retag scaffolds, check structures and excavations that may have been affected by inclement weather.
  • Thoroughly inspect all tools and equipment and prestart mobile plant before use.

Having a soft start can ensure that everyone has enough time to check their work areas and equipment, and remind everyone that safety is the number one priority. This also includes keeping in mind workers don’t overheat after spending the last couple of weeks in air conditioning, relaxing, and indulging. They may not be acclimatized to working in the heat.

As the weather heats up, so can risk on-site. Make sure that workers are provided with adequate protection from working in the heat so that they can do their work safely and comfortably.

If it’s too hot, consider stopping the task until the hot conditions have passed. You may also think about swapping physical work for plant or machinery, for tasks such as lifting or digging.

Make sure there’s good airflow going through the workspace by opening up windows or using fans. If the work is outdoors, consider setting up shade tents or additional undercover areas. 

Ensure your workers have access to drinking water and sunscreen, as we all know how harsh the Aussie sun can get. Wearing the right clothing and PPE will also make working in the heat more comfortable such as wearing loose-fitting, light-weight clothing, sunglasses, and sun-protective hats.

Not everyone reacts to heat the same way so you should keep an eye out on each other and if a worker experiences heat-related illness, you must act quickly. For the early stages of heat-related illness, first aid can often be effective, but you should always seek medical assistance if in doubt, or if the person’s symptoms are severe. Symptoms to look out for are:

  • Dizziness and feeling weak
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Pale, cool and clammy skin
  • Rapid breathing and shortness of breath
  • Heat cramps resulting from heavy sweating without replacing salt and electrolytes
  • Dehydration from increased sweating and workers not drinking enough water

Be prepared this summer and make sure and remember to keep the health, safety, and well-being of workers first. Here are some helpful resources and if you have any questions you can contact the Advisory Team on 1800 954 702.

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