How hot does your place of
Ever felt tired, weak, headachy, irritable and sweaty whilst at
You could be suffering from dehydration or heat exhaustion.
This could impact on your ability to make effective decisions,
which leads to mental errors, which can lead to poor judgment when
operating plant and equipment - and we all know where that ends...
If you work outside, in a factory or drive a vehicle, particularly
a heavy vehicle for work it is likely that you are regularly
exposed to extremes in temperature which can result in dehydration
and heat stroke.
Even working in an air-conditioned environment you still run the
risk of dehydration and exposure to sudden temperature
changes. There's nothing like coming out of a refrigerated
air-conditioned workplace on a 45 degree day, when the heat hits
you like a slap in the face.
Your employer has an obligation to provide you with a safe working
environment and to carry out appropriate hazard identification
audits and risk assessments. They also have an obligation to
provide information and training to ensure that you are safe from
injury and risks to your health. This means that your
employer should be monitoring your work environment - including the
If you work in a hot environment your employer should provide you
with training for how to identify and deal with dehydration and
heat stress and how to avoid it and provide you with equipment to
help prevent it. If this isn't happening in your workplace,
speak with your employer..
You, as an employee, have an obligation to take reasonable care of
yourself at work and in cases where you are working in a hot
environment you should ensure that you always have a good supply of
water to prevent dehydration. Get involved with assessing
hazards and risks to your health and safety and report them to your
employer or your Union representative so that systems can be put in
place to avoid injury.
The OHS &W Regulation (No. 34) states that employers are
obliged to ensure that there is an adequate supply of cool and
potable drinking water available for each employee. Is
there a sufficient water supply available to you whilst you are
working? Ideally, you should have a cooler bag or esky to
keep an adequate amount of drinking water in whenever you are away
from a fixed water supply.
Drinking coffee or sugary soft drinks is not recommended; often
these drinks can cause greater thirst. Choose a nice cool drink of
water, or maybe a sports drink to replace essential
Don't drink freezing cold drinks. They can cause stomach cramps
Wear comfortable, loose fitting, light coloured clothing and avoid
eating hot foods and heavy meals as they tend to cause an increase
in body temperature.
If you are a driver, make sure your vehicle is well-maintained so
as to avoid breaking down in a remote location.
Keep an umbrella in your vehicle. If you have to get out of
your vehicle in a remote location it will provide some protection
from the sun.
Symptoms of heat stroke/dehydration include fatigue, weakness,
nausea and vomiting, headache, dizziness, muscle cramps,
irritability, sweating (although in extreme cases of heat stroke
you won't be able to sweat), paleness and breathing
Always remember, if you feel thirsty, chances are you are already
dehydrated. Stop what you are doing and have a drink of
If you do find yourself dehydrated or demonstrating symptoms of
heat stroke, stop, rest and rehydrate, drink plenty of cool water,
massage any muscle cramps and use a fan or cool cloth to help cool
your body down.
If you feel dizzy or nauseous you should seek immediate medical
If you are concerned about the temperature at your workplace, get
a digital thermometer and record the temperature and report it to
your employer, co-workers and your Union.
If you do suffer an injury as a result of heat exposure, you may
be entitled to lodge a claim for workers compensation
. You should always
report injuries to your employer if you have any concerns and if
you are not satisfied with the response you can seek assistance
from an Andersons Employment & Industrial Law