Heat stress risk rises with El Nino

4 December 2018

WEATHER experts are forecasting a scorcher of a summer for Queensland, meaning your risk of heat stress is on the rise.

Bureau of Meteorology Climatologist, Felicity Gamble said the three-month climate outlook (November – January) showed above-average temperatures.

“We don’t often see probabilities quite this high,” Ms Gamble said.

“We’re just on the verge of going into El Nino which means below-average rainfall and above-average temperatures.”

“You’ve got less cloud and less rainfall to keep things cool.”

Manage your mindset

Fatigue, headaches, dizzy, feeling faint, muscle cramps and not going to the bathroom as frequently are all signs you may be experiencing heat stress.

Clinical Director and Principal Psychologist, Rachael O’Connor of The Therapy Spot, Gold Coast said those in the building and construction industry often work on tight deadlines and feel immense pressure to push on and get the job done.

“Tradies often have good fitness and think they can push their bodies beyond certain levels. You need to take a step back and be mindful of what’s going on in your body – pay attention to it,” Ms O’Connor said.

She said the right mindset, your personal fitness and self-care would go a long way in mitigating your chances of heat stress.

“Are you getting enough sleep, are you eating the right things, are you taking time to wind down?” she said.

Ms O’Connor said being aware of dehydration from alcohol and rehydrating your body with water was imperative during summer.

Reduce your risks

Meet with your staff and discuss ways to alleviate or mitigate the impact of hot conditions.

If workers are experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion, such as dizziness, nausea or fainting, it’s important that they stop, rest and drink more fluids. You should also consider how the work could be rescheduled or managed more effectively.

Some control measures include:

  • Rotating jobs in and out of the sun during peak exposure times (10am – 2pm)
  • Avoiding work in ceiling spaces during the middle of the day
  • Encouraging workers to drink 150–200mm of cool fluids every 15–20 minutes, rather than consuming a one-litre drink sporadically
  • Drinking water or sports drinks instead of tea, coffee or milk
  • Resting dehydrated workers until they’re fully rehydrated
  • Ensuring air-conditioners in amenities sheds are working properly
  • Ensuring water coolers are working properly
  • Creating shaded areas with tarps or finding a tree for rest breaks
  • Wearing a hat or hard hat brim with neck flap
  • Wearing cooling vests and backpack-style, hands-free water dispensers during extended periods of outdoor work.

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