Heat stress sees formworkers hospitalised
Two Queensland formworkers were hospitalised due to heat stress during an incident in February 2019.
According to a Workplace Health and Safety Queensland incident alert, one of the workers suffered heat syncope during preparations for a concrete pour at a construction site.
The alert said three other workers also reported feeling unwell, and they were treated on site by emergency services.
It said investigations have indicated that the workers reported feeling unwell while preparing the formwork during the morning, when the temperature was approximately 32°. Conditions were being managed through work breaks, access to water and supervision. Investigations are continuing.
According to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, heat stroke risks are not just related to temperature. Other factors can include:
- exposure to direct sunlight, especially during the hottest part of the day;
- exposure to reflected heat from construction materials, polished aluminium and glass;
- strenuous tasks or work for sustained long periods;
- exposure to additional heat from machinery;
- inadequate cooling off, rest periods or insufficient water consumption;
- climatic conditions (low air movement, high humidity, high temperature);
- clothing and personal protective equipment that reduces heat loss from the body;
- workers not being used to carrying out physical work in hot conditions;
- poor diet, vomiting, diarrhoea or alcohol and caffeine consumption;
- fatigue related to inadequate or irregular sleep patterns.
PCBUs are responsible for ensuring workers carrying out tasks in hot conditions can do so without risking their health and safety. They should also consider higher order controls, such as a safe system of work in line with other control measures, like sheltered rest areas and easily available cool water. In addition, they must provide information, training and instruction to workers so they can recognise the early symptoms of heat-related illness, know how to follow safe work procedures and report any problems immediately.
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