It goes without saying that our firefighters cannot escape some degree of work in elevated / hot conditions. As firefighters we put a range of control measures in place including:
- PPE / PPC that provides some degree of thermal protection.
- A supply of drinking water is made available so that we can manage our hydration levels.
- Training to improve awareness of potential heat injury and fatigue.
- Training for our Crew Leaders to ensure that crews are provided with appropriate rest and hydration breaks.
What does WorkCover have to say about working in the heat?
Workers urged to stay safe in the heat
Temperatures are expected to soar into the 40s in many parts of the State tomorrow (14/11/2014) and over the weekend, prompting WorkCover NSW to remind businesses and workers to work safely in the heat.
Acting General Manager of WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division, Peter Dunphy said businesses and workers needed to take precautions when working in high temperatures.
“Fatigue and heat stress are major causes of injury in hot conditions,” Mr Dunphy said.
“They can reduce a worker’s performance and productivity, plus increase the chance of injury by reducing the ability to concentrate, recognise risks and communicate effectively”.
“In fact, the three years to July 2011, there were 497 claims for workplace fatigue and heat stroke at a cost of $4.3 million, so it needs to be taken seriously and managed effectively.”
Mr Dunphy said workers and businesses need to work in partnership to protect themselves from the effects of working in heat.
“If possible, businesses should try to re-schedule work to cooler times of the day such as early morning or late afternoon”. (That is a bit difficult for all fire fighting situations but we definitely should take advantage of the cooler parts of the day for fire behaviour and worker safety reasons)
“If this is not possible, ensure workers have access to plain drinking water, at least 200mL every 15-20 minutes, shaded rest areas and frequent rest breaks.”
“Supervision is also important as people can deteriorate quickly if heat affected, so keep an eye out for each other”.
“Businesses should set realistic workloads and work schedules and ensure fair distribution of work”.
“It is important that workers don’t rely on energy or caffeinated drinks which can have a diuretic affect”.
“Workers can be exposed to UV radiation when working in the shade as well as the sun, so it is important to wear sun protection in all outdoor conditions”.
“Workers should be provided clothing with a UPF 50+ rating such as loose shirts with long sleeves, collars and long pants”.
“They should also be provided with broad spectrum sunscreen SPF 30+, broad brimmed hats and sunglasses which meet Australian Standards for UV protection.”
Further information on fatigue management and working safely in the sun is available from www.workcover.nsw.gov.au or by calling 13 10 50. Other sun safety resources are available from the Cancer Council at www.cancercouncil.com.au.
The NSW RFS has produced a great resource titled “Effects of Heat”, we have included it as a download below.
Click HERE or on the image below.