It's going to be a scorcher this week. Parts of Australia's south and east are tipped to be over 40 degrees in the coming days. If you're an business owner or manager, you should consider the wellbeing of your staff and the reliability of any work equipment during a heatwave. Being prepared is vital and we have some tips to help companies get ready for soaring temperatures.
Dave Moylan, CEO and founder at Vault Intelligence, a company that focuses on health, safety and risk management for businesses, have some tips for keeping your business healthy in a heatwave.
Stay On Top Of Weather Alerts
Subscribe to the weather bureau’s alerts so you can get organised and brief your staff ahead of time if a heatwave is on the way. If it’s likely there will be a shutdown, let your customers know early so it doesn’t impact your productivity or relationships. Planning ahead will mean the heatwave has the least possible impact on your staff and bottom line.
Keep Your Maintenance Schedules Up To Date
These need to be rigorous as equipment is more likely to fail in the heat, risking both safety and liability. Triple check your maintenance schedules before a heatwave is about to hit.
If the temperature is above 35 degrees, you should be talking to your workers daily and reminding them of your heatwave policy and their responsibility to speak up when conditions are difficult. It’s also very important that middle management is well briefed on the policy and checking on the wellbeing of each individual.
There can often be an attitude among workers of not wanting to show weakness, so when someone is feeling the effects of heat exhaustion, they might not say anything out of embarrassment. It's crucial for managers to create a safe environment where workers feel comfortable sharing their concerns and know they will be taken seriously.
Managers should also be able to assess when the conditions are too hot and make an executive call to stop work without fear of the repercussions of not completing the job that day. There’s no point having a policy if your supervisors on the ground don’t implement it. Smarten up, don’t toughen up.”
Being sun smart is vital during a heatwave, but it’s important that all personal protection equipment and other clothing is appropriate for the conditions too. Switch to light weight fabrics wherever appropriate.
The consequences of dehydration can be bad – everything from headaches, tiredness or feeling faint, to heart attack if someone is already at risk. Drinking water during a heatwave seems like a given, but isn’t always. Ideally we should be getting about 1.5-2 litres a day.
A lot of workers tend to still have their usual ‘coffee’ break but not drink nearly enough water during a heatwave. This applies especially to anyone who is older, pregnant, or spending a significant amount of time of their feet, even if they’re in air conditioning - retail workers, teachers, nurses, hospitality employees.
Make a habit of distributing extra water bottles or jugs during a heatwave to encourage your staff to hydrate, and remind them how much they should be drinking on a hot day. When they’re busy they tend to forget.