Heat stress & Heat illness 

02.02.24 12:27 PM By Projects

Western Australia's summer heat poses a significant threat to miners' health and safety with working in outside and underground environments.  Heat illness, ranging from mild heat stress to life-threatening heat stroke, can strike quickly and unexpectedly.
This memo serves as a critical reminder to be aware of the risks and take proactive steps to protect yourselves and your workmates.

Understanding Heat Illness:

  • Heat stress: This early warning sign includes excessive sweating, fatigue, headache, dizziness, and nausea. Ignoring these signals can lead to more severe conditions.
  • Heat exhaustion: If heat stress goes unaddressed, it can progress to heat exhaustion. ymptoms include profuse sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, rapid heartbeat, and weakness. Seek immediate medical attention if these occur.
  • Heat stroke: This is the most severe form of heat illness and is a medical emergency. It's characterized by a core body temperature exceeding 40°C (104°F), confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures, and potentially death. Immediate medical attention is crucial.

Preventing Heat Illness:

  • Hydration: Drink plenty of cool water (not icy) regularly, even if you don't feel thirsty. Aim for 1 litre per hour under moderate conditions and more in heavy work or extreme heat. Hydrolytes are also available.
  • Protective clothing:  Consider hats with wide brims and sunscreen for exposed skin.
  • Rest and shade: Take frequent breaks in cool, shaded areas to allow your body to cool down.
  • Acclimatization: If you are new to the industry or recently come back from a trip overseas in a cold climate, acclimatisation may be required for your role.
  • Communication: Inform your supervisor of any warning signs of heat illness in yourself or colleagues.

Responding to Heat Stroke:

If you suspect heat stroke in yourself or someone else:

  1. Call the medic immediately.
  2. Move the person to a cool, shaded area.
  3. Remove unnecessary clothing and cool the person's body with cool water (not ice) on their skin and clothing. Fan them if possible.
  4. Do not give them anything to drink or eat.
  5. Stay with the person and monitor their condition until help arrives.

Remember: Heat illness is preventable. By staying informed, taking precautions, and seeking immediate help when needed, we can all stay safe and healthy throughout the summer months.