There’s plenty of great things about summer – but having to go to work on those scorching 35 degree days isn’t one of them.
Working in the heat is hard on your body. The effects of working through the summer heat can include sunburn, dehydration, and sun stroke. In extreme cases, overexertion in the heat has been known to lead to heart attacks and strokes, causing death.
Your employer has a responsibility to provide you with a safe workplace. On hot days, this means that:
- Work should be reorganised so that the most physically demanding tasks are not required to be done in the hottest part of the day
- Work should be done in a cool location, or a location with adequate cooling and ventilation
- Workers should be allowed to wear light clothing that still provides sufficient protection from any workplace hazards
- Job rotation should be increased so workers spend less time doing hot tasks
- Extra rest breaks should be provided in cool areas
- Cool drinking water should be accessible to workers
It’s ok to ask your boss to implement measures to help prevent heat illness – but it’s illegal for your boss to refuse to make your workplace safe.
If your boss is refusing to help make your workplace safe, you can:
- Speak to your co-workers and gather evidence of the problem to present to your boss
- Organise a health and safety committee – it may sound bureaucratic, but you have real power!
- Speak to your OH&S representative, union, or the Young Workers Centre for advice