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Construction, Business - 4 min read

Australian Builders, Know Your Rights This Summer

David Cartwright

Senior Marketing Manager - Software

Nov 29, 2017 3:16:00 PM

With temperatures regularly topping 35 degrees Celsius in the summer (and occasionally reaching over 45 degrees), it’s important that all Australian builders understand their rights at work. Likewise, Australian construction employers have a responsibility to make sure they follow laws regarding the health and safety of their workers as well as best practices for helping employees to stay safe.

In this post, we’ll look at the issues surrounding working outdoors in extreme conditions, and offer tips for keeping cool in the summer heat.

Legal Requirements

All Australian employers are required to provide workers with a healthy working environment. While employers are certainly not able to control the weather, there are steps you can take to protect workers from dangerous conditions.

  • Be aware of safety recommendations from OHS and Health and Safety Representatives
  • Consult with employees about their working conditions and address any concerns
  • Provide adequate training and induction for employees as well as ongoing information about weather-related issues
  • Identify heat-related hazards your employees will have to contend with
  • Provide work systems that protect your employees against heat stress

Employees have a right to refuse to work if conditions adversely affect their health. If you feel the working conditions are unsafe due to severe weather, alert your Health and Safety Representative (HSR) who advocates for OHS issues on your behalf.

Rest Breaks for Builders

Safe at Work has created a recommended rest break schedule for working in seasonal heat. For each hour an employee works, he/she should be allowed a paid rest break to recover from working in the heat. If the temperature is 30-32 degrees Celsius, the break should be 10 minutes long. Breaks should increase to 20 minutes at 32-34 degrees and 30 minutes at 34-36 degrees. Guidelines recommend that work should cease when the temperature reaches 36-38 degrees Celsius.

Tender tips, marketing tips, technology for builders.


Tips for Keeping Cool

What can you do as an employer to keep your construction workers more comfortable while they’re working in the summer heat? The following tips can help you to make summertime work more comfortable and safe for everyone in your organisation.

Plan Carefully

Whenever it’s possible, plan to avoid working in direct sun. You can do this by scheduling work in certain areas of the work site when it’s most likely to be shaded. If your workers can “follow the shade,” they’ll be more comfortable all day long. 

Likewise, if you can plan for more strenuous work to be completed in the morning hours when it’s cooler, your workers will be able to avoid expending as much energy in the heat of the afternoon.

Provide Water Everywhere

Staying hydrated is one of the biggest challenges for construction workers during the summer. Place refillable water containers throughout the job site so everyone has water within easy reach. Keep it at a cool temperature, and consider providing electrolyte replacement beverages in addition to plain water. Discourage workers from drinking soda and energy drinks, as these can actually cause dehydration symptoms.

Teach Workers About Heat Stress

Train your workers to recognise the symptoms of heat stress, both in themselves and in their fellow workers. This is especially important for supervisors. They should be alert to headache, fatigue, dizziness, muscle and abdominal cramps and muscle weakness.

Keep Heads and Necks Covered

If your workers can keep their heads and necks shaded, they’ll be much more comfortable in the summer heat. Adding a nape protector or wrap-around sun visor to traditional protective head gear can go a long way toward staying comfortable in the sun.

Encourage Healthy Living

People who stay in good physical shape, get enough sleep and eat right are less likely to experience the effects of heat stroke and heat stress. Encourage workers to eat light, healthy lunches instead of heavy, greasy food, and remind workers frequently to drink plenty of water. 

With attention to working conditions this summer, you can help your construction workers to stay healthy and safe.

Use Technology

Wearable construction technologies are becoming increasingly common and increasingly sophisticated. From fabrics that repel heat to keep workers cool, to hard hats that monitor fatigue levels and employee temperatures, wearable technologies have the power to make your site safer. 

To discover how Cubit can change the way you do estimating and takeoff, get a free 14-day trial below.

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