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Ministerial Media Release: Don’t sacrifice your safety for a deadline

December 18, 2019

Working Canberrans are being reminded to watch out for signs of distress, with heatwave conditions and smoke set to hit the capital over the next few days.

Records are set to be broken, with maximum temperatures above 30 degrees predicted every day for the next week. The mercury is expected to tip 40 degrees for some of those days. Outdoor workers and their supervisors are reminded to take particular care and consider the following precautions to reduce the risks of working in extreme heat:

  • avoid heat and schedule work for cooler parts of the day, if possible;
  • wear protective gear, including a hat, sunscreen and appropriate clothing;
  • avoid dehydration. Drink plenty of cool fluids, preferably water;
  • take adequate breaks and rotate jobs to spend less time in the sun; and
  • seek shade and keep hydrated to prevent heat exhaustion, heat stroke, fainting and cramps.

Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety, Suzanne Orr, said the heat, smoke and end-of-year deadlines should make workers and supervisors extra vigilant around their safety.

“It is important for workers and management to remain aware of the risks associated with heat exhaustion. By keeping an eye out for early signs of distress, health and safety can remain the number one priority,” Minister Orr said.

“Combined with the poor air quality caused by the smoke, it’s important we are extra vigilant of these signs in ourselves, and those around us, as we head into a potentially dangerous summer.”

“Experts tell us these sort of conditions will only worsen over time. With a changing climate and rising average temperatures, it is crucial that employers continue to fulfil their health and safety requirements.”

ACT Work Safety Commissioner, Greg Jones, said that deadlines were tight this close to Christmas and it was important people didn’t sacrifice their safety to meet them.

“As all sites start to put their shutdown plans in place, it means people will be rushing to finish work before the break,” Mr Jones said.

“As such, it’s important that people watch out for the signs of heat stress, which can include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fainting, weakness, headaches, and if sweating stops.

“If people begin to feel unwell, seek shade where you can find it and have some cool water.”

“If you or someone else is showing signs of heat stress, call Emergency Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance.”

More information on working in heat can be found in the Safe Work Australia Guide for Managing the Risks of Working in Heat.   

More information on summer safety and preventing heat-related illness, visit: https://www.health.act.gov.au/about-our-health-system/population-health/summer-safety

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