It can be a risky time of year

In Health and Safety, February 20203 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineApril 7, 2020

How can Safewise help? We work with organisations that need more health and safety knowledge, or more time, than they have in house. For more information, check the website www.safewise.co.nz

Christmas has come and gone but the days are still hot and long. Many of us have been on holiday, others are about to go. We are more relaxed, catching up with friends and family, and enjoying our outdoor life. What can go wrong? Let‘s talk about holiday brain. Just before we go on holiday and when we return to work our minds can be more on our break than on work. This distraction has the potential to be very dangerous. When combined with the heat of summer, we may be distracted and dehydrated, leading us to make poor decisions, often with serious or even fatal outcomes.

Some of the things you can do to help combat this are:
• Ensure workers drink plenty of water or other hydrating fluids such as coffee and energy drinks. Water may need to be provided in adequate quantities for workers away from the main site.
• Provide a water cooler or keep water in the fridge. Consider freezing some of the water to be taken off site. This will thaw gradually and provide cold water throughout the day.
• Ensure outdoor workers take regular breaks in sheltered areas.
• Have a safety start-up at the beginning of the new work year and a quick catch up at the beginning of the day. This will help focus workers and give you the chance to chat with your workers. Look for those who are fatigued or not functioning quite as well as normal.
• Monitor workers and their work throughout the day – you don‘t need to micromanage, but keep an eye on them. Are they working in the manner you would expect, following safety rules?
• Be prepared to stop work and send workers home to recover. It may save a life. It will also improve productivity as there will be less work to be redone.

A few years ago, during a particularly hot and dry summer, we assisted several clients with serious incidents. The number and seriousness of the incidents was exceptional. In every case, workers reported ‘feeling the heat‘ and wishing they were still on holiday or thinking about their upcoming weekend at the beach. One instance was a fatality when the person, presumably, fell asleep while driving and crossed the centre line. Recovering from a serious incident, or worse, takes a very long time for everyone involved, particularly the injured party or parties and their families. Work together to have a safe year.