Summer Work

In February 2023, Health and Safety2 MinutesBy Tracey MurphyFebruary 27, 2023

Summer is the favourite season for many of us. We love the long days, the hot weather and the chance to be outside. Whether we are socialising or working in the garden, summer is fun. Hopefully, after a wet winter and the omnipresent Covid-19 threat, we will have a summer to enjoy.

Although we hope for hotter weather, this may contribute towards workers becoming tired and distracted by the middle of the day, potentially leading to health and safety issues.

As an employer, I ensure my workers have a reasonable break over Christmas. We take three weeks off. And there are a lot of long weekends at the beginning of the year. I expect my workers to come back refreshed, enthusiastic and ready to work. They do, but they also come back thinking about the time spent at the beach, the parties or family gatherings and wishing it had lasted a bit longer. Sometimes they are focused on the next long weekend and getting back to the beach.

As PCBUs, we must take reasonably practicable steps to protect our workers from harm. That includes their mental and physical state. We often ignore workers’ mental states, but a distracted worker is a dangerous worker. Spend a bit of time with your staff to make sure their minds are on the job. Go over your instructions with them and ask them to describe the processes they will be taking. If this is a new task, or one they have not had much experience with, consider refresher training.

The physical state of a worker is much easier to manage. Make sure they are protected from the weather. This includes sunscreen and sun hats, but also that they are hydrated. Make cold water available to them. Consider planning work so that they are not outside or making complex decisions in the hottest part of the day.

Distraction and fatigue are two leading causes of accidents. A little consideration of a worker’s needs goes a long way towards preventing accidents. It will also ensure a worker who is happy to be back.