December 18, 2019

It's going to be HOT - make sure you know your rights!


  • Humans need to maintain a constant body temperature to stay healthy

  • If our body has to work too hard to stay cool it will overheat and may cause heat-related illness

Symptoms of heat-related illnesses

  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Rapid pulse
  • High temperature
  • Clammy skin
  • Vomiting
  • Unconsciousness

Heat-related illnesses are serious and can be fatal. It is a medical emergency.

Questions to ask about the risk of heat

Some questions you could ask to consider the risks of heat and heat-related illness include:

  • Are conditions hot?
  • Are days and nights hotter than usual?
  • Is it humid?
  • When is work done?
  • How often can workers take breaks somewhere cool?
  • Is there air movement or a breeze?
  • Is the work intense or long?
  • Do workers wear hot clothing including appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)?
  • Are the workers qualified, trained and experienced?
  • Is there cool drinking water, sunscreen and appropriate PPE on hand?

Managing the risk of heat

The person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must eliminate the risks to health and safety caused by heat. If these risks cannot be eliminated, they must be minimised. Common management strategies include:

  • Providing canopies or awnings to shield workers from the sun
  • Providing regular rest breaks in a cool area
  • Providing cold non-alcoholic drinks
  • Removing any excess an unnecessary clothing
  • Proper ventilation and heat control systems 
  • Adequate staffing to accommodate for extra breaks

Stopping work when it gets too hot

  • If you are concerned that carrying out your work in heat is a serious risk to your health and safety you can and should stop work
  • The WHS laws do not state a precise temperature when this is allowed to happen because it depends on a number of factors – it is legal at any time and temperature so long as you believe performing the work would put your health and safety at significant risk
  • A worker does not need to be experiencing symptoms of a heat-related illness before stopping work
  • A worker can still stop work even if the PCBU has implemented a control measure. If they still believe they are at risk

How to stop work

1. Stop work

2. Notify your PCBU that you have stopped work 

3. Remain available to carry out any suitable alternative work – don’t just go home / not turn up

• If your yard has a trained HSR they can direct the work group to cease unsafe work

More Information


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