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climate change

2 May 2018

Regardless of your stance on global warming, there’s no denying that we’ve had some unusual weather patterns of late. This summer was one of the hottest and stickiest on record – hampering output at times, and making it difficult to operate efficiently.

But an overheated workplace is more than just a productivity issue. It also affects safety. On-the-job accidents and injuries are more common during hot weather, so managing extreme temperature is something that all employers need to address.

This has been a workplace health and safety consideration for some years now, according to WorkSafe’s Deputy General Manager, Investigations and Specialist Services Simon Humphries.

“Employers have a legal obligation under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) to identify risk in the workplace and mitigate that risk appropriately. Managing extremes in workplace temperature – both hot and cold – is one of these risks,” he says.

“Recognising the signs of thermal discomfort or stress and raising concerns is important for both businesses and workers to manage health risks that come from working in an environment that is too hot or too cold.”

Signs of heat-related illness in the workplace include:

Fainting, heat stroke, cramps, rashes, exhaustion and fatigue.

Tips to prevent heat-related illness or injuries:

Make sure you have plenty of cool drinking water on hand. Encourage your employees to wear lighter clothing and take more breaks. Use temperature control / HVAC systems indoors. Schedule physical work to cooler times of the day. Use machines to reduce physical activity. Provide shade and sunscreen for employees working outdoors. Equip workers with information and training to help manage heat-related fatigue and illness.

More at worksafe.govt.nz/topic-and-industry/temperature-at-work/

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