Tips for working in high-heat environments

Hot work processes, strenuous physical exertion and heat radiating from hot surfaces are key risk factors for employees working in extreme temperatures.

The Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) stated above-average temperatures have been forecasted this summer.

DMIRS director Andrew Chaplyn said the extremes of Western Australia’s climate could lead to the significant risk of heat stress.

This can cause permanent damage to the brain and other vital organs, or even death, he added.

“Adding to the danger posed by heat stress is the fact that many mining operations are in remote areas in Western Australia where medical assistance may not be easily available,” Chaplyn said.

“This is especially the case for exploration work and travel between mine sites.”

The signs of heat stroke are cessation in sweating, high body temperature and hot dry skin.

A person suffering from heat stroke should be cooled down as quickly as possible until medical treatment is available, the DMIRS stated.

Mining employees should drink cool, clean water at frequent intervals, have rest pauses in a cool place and help sweat evaporate by increasing air circulation.

The DMIRS encourages managers to adjust work output expectations and ensure workers were trained to recognise early symptoms of heat stress.

“Supervisors and workers need to understand the risks and symptoms of heat stress. Workers should report any signs of heat stress to a supervisor,” Chaplyn said.

“It is critical that urgent medical treatment is sought for anyone suspected of suffering heat-related illnesses.”