El Niño event increases heat risk at Queensland mines
Queensland mine workers are starting to experience the effects of hot weather conditions as summer approaches and the country enters an El Niño weather event.
El Niño events increase the risk of extreme temperature shifts, like heatwaves and hotter days.
Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ) is reminding safety officers at mine sites to effectively manage heat exposure and to protect workers from heat-related illness.
Thermal conditions and risk factors in the mine can change daily and not all mine workers respond to heat in the same way, so all of that needs to be taken into consideration when assessing heat exposure risks.
"The strategies and techniques we use to reduce heat stress at mines are simple, but sometimes overlooked," said RSHQ Chief Operating Officer Rob Djukic.
"That includes modifying the environment to suit the work, modifying the work to suit the environment, or sometimes a combination of both.
"Safety at Queensland mines is everyone's responsibility and we're here to assist the mines to ensure all workers feel safe."
Mine sites should consider the following measures to reduce heat-related illnesses:
- reduce radiant heat sources using insulation, spot cooling or shielding.
- locate potable water and ice machines within easy access for workers to hydrate regularly.
- use mechanical aids where possible (e.g. using cranes and forklifts), to minimise physical exertion in heat.
- plan work activities to include periods of acclimatisation for workers returning after prolonged absence.
- implement regular rest breaks in cool areas such as vehicle cabins, crib rooms and control rooms.
- erect portable shades as refuge areas for temporary or remote work locations
- increase air movement by the installation of mechanical fans and introduce cooling fans where possible.
- reschedule high physical work activities to cooler times during the shift.
- select clothing options which offer ventilation openings and permeable fabric.
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Last updated: 05 Oct 2023