Important Information on Masks and Hot Weather
If the current health advice in your state or territory recommends wearing mask when you cannot physically distance, the SDA encourages you to wear one at work.
Your employer has a duty to provide you with a healthy and safe work environment during hot weather.
While your workplace doesn’t have to be below a certain temperature, during hot weather, employers should allow greater flexibility within the workplace to minimise the effects of extreme heat on workers.
Employers should also undertake risk assessments, particularly for workers who may be at higher risk of heat related illness such as workers who are pregnant, post menopausal, or have a medical condition.
That is why the SDA is calling on all employers to adopt our 10-point safety plan for wearing masks and working in hot weather.
10 Point Safety Plan - Masks and Hot Weather
1. Increased and regular breaks from working in hot conditions, where possible this should allow for employees to take the mask off and rehydrate
2. Ensure that there is a cool, well-ventilated and shaded covid-19 safety compliant area for workers to have their breaks, including extra hydration
3. Regular rotation of workers out of exposed or hot areas of work
4. Ensure the workspace is cool and well ventilated, as much as possible naturally by opening windows/doors or with engineering solutions such as air-conditioning, the installation of extra fans or other cooling solutions, and by minimisation of radiant heat sources and use of block out blinds in in hot areas of work. Consideration should also be given to the use of air purifiers to help ventilate poorly ventilated and smaller enclosed areas.
5. Relaxation of uniform requirements to allow workers to wear cool and breathable work wear so long as it adheres to PPE requirements
6. Provide an adequate supply of masks to allow for regular replacement when they become damp or dirty (increased sweat in heat)
7. Access to cool water or refreshments
8. Re-evaluate workload by considering the weather conditions and time of day when the work will be carried out (ie. Smaller pick rates or heavy work when it is cooler such as in the early mornings)
9. Allow workers the option to wear their own cotton masks provided they adhere to safety specifications
10. Placement of ‘No One Deserves a Serve’ signs at registers and a zero-tolerance approach to customer abuse and violence
It is incredibly important that workers are conscious of the effects of heat stress and stop work when they feel like they are suffering from them.
Symptoms of heat stress include:
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Muscle Cramps
Please contact your local SDA branch if you have concerns about your working conditions and hot weather.
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