WA miners brace for extreme temperatures

WorkSafe Western Australia has cautioned employees against the risk of heat stress, or the more serious heat stroke, as the state prepares for temperatures of 43 degrees Celsius.

The warning not only applies to outdoor workers, but also those who are constantly exposed to high temperatures in indoor workplaces such as foundries.

WorkSafe Western Australia commissioner Darren Kavanagh said that increased sweating caused by heat depleted the body’s fluids and could lead to the symptoms of heat stress, such as tiredness, irritability, inattention and muscular cramps.

“These symptoms don’t just cause physical discomfort, they may also increase the risk of workplace injuries by taking a worker’s attention away from the task at hand, and this is a major concern,” he said.

Workers exposed to extremely hot environments can lose up to a litre of fluid every hour.

They are encouraged to take regular intakes of cool water and rest pauses in a cool place, while opting for loose clothing to allow for greater air circulation.

“Heat stroke is a far more serious condition that must be treated immediately,” WorkSafe Western Australia stated.

“… If heat stroke is suspected, the person should be treated by a doctor as soon as possible.”

Heat stroke is identified when body core temperatures exceed 40 degrees Celsius.

“Guarding against heat stress and heat stroke is part of providing a safe and healthy workplace, and I urge employers to ensure that preventative measures are in place,” Kavanagh said.

Groups who may be susceptible to heat-related illnesses include people who are overweight, taking allergy, blood pressure and heart medications or people have a mental condition, according to a report by the Victorian Government.

Queensland has also seen an increasing number of accepted heat-related claims, from an average of 50 claims per year for 2013-16 to an average of 75 claims per year for 2016-18.

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