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Health and safetyNovember 17, 2016
With summer fast approaching, how will you be looking out for the health and safety of your staff?
Preventable injuries such as falls, poisoning due to chemical exposure, occupational burns, heat stroke and severe dehydration all have a higher chance of occurring in warmer workplaces. The summer months will bring the hot weather and those without air conditioning or who work outside need to be prepared.
Employsure has four top tips to assist employers and business owners on hydration and working in warmer temperatures.
Assess the situation
Ensure your staff have easy access to water. This will encourage greater consumption and prevent dehydration. It is also imperative employers provide just as easy access to toilets. If the ratio of toilets to employees is too low or if the toilets are too far away from working stations for example, it will prohibit consumption of liquids which is a problem. Sometimes water is not enough and a drink with a higher concentration of salt and electrolyte is required.
Protection from heat and sun
Personal protective equipment should be worn to cover skin from direct sunlight if employees are working outside. The Cancer Society has estimated that around 300 New Zealanders die from melanomas every year and over 4,000 people are diagnosed with either melanoma in situ or invasive every year . Hats, sunblock and sunglasses should always be warn. Frequent rest breaks can aid in regulating body temperature after exertion from working.
The body’s core temperature is 37ºC and when external temperatures rise above this the body relies on evaporation to expel excess heat. To do this the body produces sweat which evaporates on the skin, cooling surface blood cells. The cooled blood then returns to the body’s core, lowering core body temperature. The most important part of the cycle is to replace bodily fluid, which is done through drinking water, or alternative drinks with a high salt and electrolyte concentrate.
All staff should be aware of the effects heat can have on their health and safety. By detailing exactly what risks may occur as a result of working in the heat, this may assist with ensuring staff are aware of their personal obligations to their health and safety.
Implement protection measures
Posters around your workplace to encourage hydration is a good start, however an example from Leighton Contractors Australia Pacific is their award winning heat stress management program, and they have not had a single heat stress related incident since commencing the program in July 2012. The program includes hydration training, toolbox talks and fluid consumption guidelines.
If you would like to discuss implementing measures in your workplace call Employsure today. Our health and safety service can provide support on hydration and working in heat. A Consultant can come to your workplace to assess the level of risk and advise on ways to prevent dehydration and heat related stress, so call us today on 0800 675 700.