Excessive heat in schools
As Queensland continues to swelter, it is important for members to understand what their rights are when working in high temperatures.
To prepare for high temperatures in summer, employers should identify and minimise any risks in the workplace by performing a risk assessment and develop a strategy
While some schools may have guidelines, currently there is no consistent policy across Australian schools for heat protection.
Queensland schools remain open and students are not sent home during excessive heat or heatwave conditions, unless a directive from the Principal or Executive Director determines a school will temporarily close.
Managing the Work Environment and Facilities Code of Practice states employees working in extreme heat must be able to work without a risk to their health and safety, as reasonably practical.
However, there is no provision for the cessation of work when the temperature reaches a certain point.
Members may wish to meet as a Chapter to determine the best course of action when there are extreme temperatures and where there is a view that the health and safety of members is at risk.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland encourages employers to be mindful of their workers’ safety during hot weather and details precautions that members can take to limit any incidences of heat stress, including:
- Recognise the symptoms of heat stress such as fainting, exhaustion, confusion, agitation, cramps, headache, rapid pulse, nausea, vomiting, and rashes;
- Use fans or air conditioning if possible to increase air flow;
- Provide shady areas to reduce heat in outdoor areas and regular rest and drink breaks;
- Modify or postpone any outdoor or sporting activities where appropriate;
- Increase access to the coolest areas of the school ground or facilities for lessons or other activities; and
- Ensure first aid procedures are in place in the event of a student or staff member becoming heat-stressed.
Southern Cross University’s Brendon Hyndman supports the idea that the federal government should develop a national policy on heat protection in schools.
The health and physical education academic details five key areas of what a national school heat policy may look like here.
For more information on managing excessive heat in schools, contact our Industrial Services team on FREECALL 1800 177 937 or Industrial.Services@qieu.asn.au