HEALTH AND SAFETY - Managing crazy weather

Friday, April 9, 2021

Summer is the best season for most of us. We love the long days, the hot weather and the chance to be outside. Whether we are socialising or working in the garden, summer is usually fun. But, this year, the weather has been particularly crazy, with some areas experiencing record-breaking, scorching hot days and others snow, hail and cold. These extremes have similar impacts on people, with different causes. Heat makes us weary. The sunlight dazzles us and makes it hard to see the road. The cold also fatigues us, and fog, snow, and hail make driving difficult. Over the holiday break, the weather ranged hugely in temperature, wind and rain, often in the same locations. As persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs), we need to protect our workers from hazards and risks. This includes the weather. Make sure employees are protected from the weather.

This includes encouraging the use of sunscreen and sun hats, but also ensuring that they are hydrated. Make cold water available to them. Consider whether the work can be planned so that they are not outside or making complex decisions in the hottest part of the day. In adverse conditions, make sure the workers have appropriate clothing and shelter. They also need to drink plenty of water to remain hydrated. Ensure their vehicles are in good condition, including tyre tread, windscreen wipers, washer fluid, and other items critical to safety in wet weather. Depending on the organisation’s size, some of this work will be part of the officers’ normal duties. In larger organisations, officers must have systems to manage these and other hazards. In either case, they must be comfortable identifying and managing all reasonably known hazards and risks. They should be able to verify that these things are done.