Working and travelling during hot weather conditions

Working in hot weather can cause serious health problems. When the weather is hot, your body works overtime trying to keep cool. Excess heat escapes through sweating, exhaling and increased blood flow to the skin. Hot weather can overwhelm these mechanisms, leading to uncomfortable and sometimes harmful symptoms.

Symptoms of heat induced ailments include:

  • Dehydration – thirst, less frequent urination
  • Prickly heat bumps – irritating skin rash
  • Cramps – painful muscle contractions
  • Edema – swelling of the body
  • Exhaustion/fatigue – characterised by clammy skin, paleness, dizziness, nausea, fever and headache

Heat stroke is the most severe heat-related illness and can be life threatening. Seek immediate medical help if you or a co-worker develops the following symptoms:

  • Lethargy and sluggishness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Confusion, disorientation, agitation and irritability
  • High body temperature
  • Intense muscle aches, fever, diarrhoea or nausea
  • Convulsion, fainting, seizure or loss of consciousness

Actions to take to reduce the risk of impact when working in hot weather:

  • Take regular breaks – in the shade
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Do not drink high-caffeine or high-sugar content drinks, for example, coffee, Redbull and Monster
  • Risk assess your works for the day and put control measures into place to prevent heat exhaustion
  • Keep an eye on your co-workers and stop them from working if they show the above symptoms
  • Wear sun protection on any exposed skin and apply throughout the day
  • Eat foods that contain water, for example, salads and fruit – these aid hydration
  • Wear dark-lensed safety glasses
  • Consider working time and adjust work patterns if possible to avoid working during the hottest part of the day